Mike Madden, Salon.com: The gathering in Lafayette Square, in honor both of tax day and of a generalized fury at Barack Obama, his budget, the Federal Reserve and whatever else ails the conservative movement, was going just fine, despite the rain. But there’s an old saying in protest organizing: It’s all fun and games until someone tea-bags the White House.
And so it went Wednesday for the most geographically prominent tea party protest of the hundreds held around the nation. At around 2:30 p.m., a little before the rally was supposed to break up, someone threw a box of tea bags over the fence around the executive mansion, and the Secret Service moved in like, well, like they were cornering a bunch of liberal protesters gathered outside of George W. Bush’s White House.
Before you could say, “Who is John Galt?” the party was over. It turns out the Secret Service’s devotion to keeping people from throwing things at the president is fairly bipartisan. Unlike the tea parties. Organizers said the day drew people out to more than 700 sites nationwide. Fox News was practically a co-sponsor; the network broadcast live from San Antonio, with Glenn Beck; Sacramento, with Neil Cavuto; and Atlanta, with Sean Hannity. There was no official count of total national attendance, but estimates ranged from 4,000 in Lansing, Mich., to a few hundred in Boston, home of the Revolutionary War-era tea party that inspired the general motif. (The right-wing Web site Pajamas Media put the national figure at 184,064, as of 8:17 p.m. Eastern.) But whatever the size of the crowds, from Washington to San Francisco the rallies were pretty much a right-wing thing. They drew a mixture of the conservative base, Ron Paul zealots, libertarians and assorted others who are dead certain that Obama’s administration is taking the country into socialism — or worse.