I really do enjoy a good political rally, and yesterday's Tea Party event on the Boston Common had the two key ingredients for success: the sun was out, and the sound system was good. And, although turnout was so-so -- maybe 300 people -- it was a good mix of earnest believers, crazies, curiosity-seekers, counter-protesters, and media. The speaking program was well-paced, fairly engaging, and, as far as I could tell, free of dangerously evil people. Plus, public curiosity Tim Pawlenty -- my #1-ranked contender for the GOP Presidential nomination -- spoke, right in Mitt Romney's back yard. So, I had a good time.
This was the third Tea Party rally in Boston marking tax day of April 15th, and easily the best of the three. The first, in 2009, was pretty weak, and seemed particularly lame in context of the day's national events. Last year's was co-opted by the Tea Party Express travelling roadshow, which drew a much larger crowd to see star attraction Sarah Palin, but to paraphrase a Woody Allen joke, the acts were terrible, plus you couldn't see or hear them.
This year's performances were uneven, but overall not too bad. When I arrived, a guy in full colonial garb (Rev. Paul Jehle) was ranting that the myriad horrific ills currently befalling American government are nothing that Sam Adams and Jesus can't fix. So that's a pretty damn good start.
The best speaker of the afternoon, for me, was death-tax guy Dick Patton, who I really enjoyed -- although he lost the crowd during a historical digression, the gist of which was that Western civilization was going great guns until Karl Marx came out against inheritence in 1848, and it's been downhill ever since.
Karyn Polito was pretty good, although I sense that she is determined to amend her political epitath, which now ends with "failed candidate for state treasurer," by adding "...and for attorney general," or "...and for US Congress."
Michael Graham was a good emcee -- and he wisely left the colonial dress-up to others on this occasion. The usual suspects of radio host Todd Feinberg and Pioneer Institute director Jim Stergios aren't my faves, but they were fine -- nothing nearly as painful as Victoria Jackson and the other chalkboard-grating Tea Party Express acts last year. Plus, the bad music was relegated to front-and-end bookcasing.
Worst of the day, surprisingly, was the dry-as-dust balanced-budget-amendment guy, John Lumbard. But that's the great thing about a rally -- when the stage gets boring, you focus on the people-watching.
I was pleased to see Segue Tea Party Guy, who attended last year. I got a contribution-request flyer for a woman who is aparently running for state senate against Stan Rosenberg, whose district is a very long way from the Boston Common. I learned that Barack Obama was "Born A Brit/Not Legit." I got to watch guys who presumably (I'm just stereotyping by their look) usually play hackey-sack near the Common bandstand that time of day, condescendingly engaging in conversation with an equally condescending middle-aged man sporting Gadsden flags. Media members, out in force because of T-Paw, got their requisite shots of the woman in the gigantic bloated-government fat suit. Past and future losing Congressional candidate "birther Bill" Hudak was in attendance. A couple dozen counter-protesting union members had staked out a big section right in front, where their signs and chants could be particularly annoying -- which seemed like a bad strategy for capitalizing on recent events that might be shifting populist conservative sentiment away from Republicans, but who am I to say?
As for Pawlenty, I thought he did fine. I was distracted for a good chunk of it, however, when I heard raised voices coming from what I (as an alt-weekly journo) knew to be the socialists' table -- drawing me to look just in time to see some dude pull a Teresa, sending all the socialist lit scattering. One of the socialists and Dude very nearly came to blows, but the cooler-headed socialists separated them, and Dude stormed away, yelling back that they had no right to be in his neighborhood, apparently because of something in the Constitution, but I didn't get a chance to ask him for clarification.
Since I didn't get to talk with table-flipping Dude, I only got the socialists' side of the story. According to them, Dude approached their table and engaged them in a political discussion. This dialectic proceeded cordially, until Dude posited that certain of society's ills under discussion are caused by the niggers. After two or three n-bombs, one of the socialists countered with the suggestion that Racist Dude fuck off, and Racist Dude chose instead to start yelling and rearranging furniture.
The socialists wanted me to know that, other than Racist Dude, everyone at the rally had been very civil to them. I suggested that perhaps Racist Dude had mistaken them for National Socialists, and that in future they should try to avoid this confusion by bringing along at least one socialist who is not white, male and in their 20s.
All in all, a good time on the Common. Plus, I got a free "Don't Believe the Liberal Media" pin. Score!