When odd movements pick odd leaders

WHEN ODD MOVEMENTS PICK ODD LEADERS…. Many conservative activists want “Tea Party” activists to be considered normal, well-adjusted, mainstream Americans, who just happen to be concerned about taxes and government spending. Or deficits. Or maybe health care reform. Or quite possibly birth certificates. It’s hard to keep track.

In any case, the drive to be taken seriously as a legitimate political movement is complicated by the fact that Tea Baggers so frequently come across as nutjobs. Take Tea Party Express organizer Mark Williams, for example.

Last night, Williams appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” for a group discussion featuring Cooper, David Gergen, and James Carville. It was Williams’ chance to present his group’s efforts as credible and sensible. He failed spectacularly.

This clip is only a portion of the discussion, but Cooper noted from the outset that Williams has called the president a Nazi. When he denied it, Cooper noted Williams’ own website. The right-wing activist responded, laughing, “We have got the philosophy of fascism and national socialism at work here. Of course we do.” He then argued he doesn’t call “Barack Obama” a Nazi, he calls “Mubarak Hussein Obama” a Nazi, which Williams considers completely different.

Asked if he was offended by some of the vile placards carried by Tea Baggers at their most recent protest, Williams refused to say, instead attacking liberals attending “so-called antiwar peace demonstrations,” for carrying signs “where George Bush was portrayed as a monkey, where he was first portrayed as the Joker.” He added that these protestors may be “representative of the Democrats and the American liberals.”

Cooper noted that Williams has called the president “an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief.” Williams conceded that he does describe the president that way. “That’s the way he’s behaving,” he said. Cooper asked if he “really believes” this. “He’s certainly acting like it,” Williams added.

When Gergen described this madness as “unbelievable,” Williams added, “Until [Obama] embraces the whole country, what else can I conclude? He and guys like James [Carville] are totally, totally isolating the rest of this country.”

Far be it for me to offer advice to right-wing protestors, but the Tea Party gang really ought to find a less ridiculous spokesperson to represent them on CNN.