The rise and fall of the Tea Party has been swell to watch. Back in the day, it was like a tsunami, washing a bunch of crazy people into the House and Senate, and now the clean-up crew - including, as it turns out, even conservative powerhouses (well, at least he was last year) like Karl Rove - are desperately trying to sweep it back out. The brand has become so yesterday, about as relevant as Baby Phat in urban wear. The trick is trying to convince the Tea Party that they're yesterday's news, that their brand has become toxic, that their former leader, Sarah Palin, is probably as we speak applying for a job at Chick-fil-A, and that the rabidly anti-women, anti-contraceptive, anti-choice, pro-weaponry mentality is a dead-bang loser.
The gun control debate has brought the crazies slithering back into the light, all 8% of them. Yes, even though only 8% of Americans identify themselves as tea party people (while President Obama currently enjoys an approval rating of 60%), the movement still thinks it's relevant, and it's found renewed vigor as it defends its amped-up version of the 2nd Amendment (any guns, anywhere, any time, any capacity, to be used in any way) and mocks and derides "left-wing loons" and Democrats in general and - most importantly - bad, bad President Obama, who's gathering support for sane, rational, effective and, yes, more restrictive gun control policies. Looks like we'll be seeing more rallies, more costumes, more guns, and more people spouting paranoid, delusional ideas that President Obama is about to go door to door to confiscate guns.
Teaparty.org gleefully re-posted Alex Jones' Infowars.com's article about the President's recently released skeet shooting photo, and a company that's marketing a doll in his skeet-shooting likeness, under a not-so-subtle headline that reads, "Company Takes A Shot At Obama With ‘Skeeter’ Doll." Ah, those little punsters; they'll later deny that - like Sarah Palin's crosshairs map - there was anything intentional in the "takes a shot" rhetoric. Liberals - no sense of humor. But in the midst of ginning up of violent actions toward our president, the article also floats a brand new something for conservatives to become twisted in knots around. "The big question is," the article queries, "Will these toys be banned from schools around the country as part of the purge on toy guns, gun hand gestures and even pictures of guns?"
A quick Google search of "pictures of guns banned" turned up many conservative websites - Free Republic, Red State, Ammoland and the Blaze, among others - reacting in outrage to this notion. And although there isn't a "pictures ban" (1st Amendment rights prevail), in fact, it seems sensible to ban guns - any types of guns, even toys - and any type of gun imagery at schools. After all, many schools already prohibit gang paraphernalia (as they should), the throwing up of gang signs (as they should), offensive t-shirts and clothing, and any sort of weaponry or images of weapons. The Tea Party and right-wingnuts have their panties in a bunch because the "anything goes" gun policies - the ones that are not sane, not sensible, and not designed to protect our kids - are destined for the dustbin of history, as is the Tea Party. Conservative websites, like Alex Jones' Infowars.com, are horrified that fake guns are banned at schools. Jones probably thinks 5-year-olds should be able to carry an assault weapon slung across their shoulders like a backpack.
The phrase "1%" had a very negative connotation during the 2012 election - and the 1% resoundingly lost. "The 8%" - the number of Americans identifying with the Tea Party - will no doubt suffer the same fate. The Tea Party may love it some guns, and it may have found a new mission in life to defend the rights of mass killers to own the weapons of their choice, but 8% isn't enough to win national elections.
And, about that headline: In gun lingo, "taking a shot" means "taking a shot." Let's keep an eye on that.