There was a time when pundits liked to argue that the Tea Party and the religious right were two different things. (In fact, about half of Tea Party followers describe themselves as Christian conservatives.) Just in case anyone was still laboring under that delusion, Tea Party leader William Temple is doing his best to put it to rest once and for all. At a press conference in Washington Monday, Temple, chairman of the inaptly named Freedom Jamboree, a Tea Party convention to be held in Kansas City next fall, took a surprising stand on the debt ceiling. He’d support raising it, if conservatives could reinstate don’t ask, don’t tell in return or, as Temple charmingly phrased it, end “military effeminization.”
Congress has to vote to raise the amount of debt the government can carry once it reaches a predetermined level. Hard-core conservatives have drawn a line in the sand against raising the debt ceiling, despite the risk of forcing the government to default on its debts. Temple, an ordained minister, declared at the press conference that Republicans should tell the White House that “we won’t even think about unhiding your credit card until you have joined us in enacting bipartisan entitlement reform and fixing the Obama care mess.” Temple called Republicans who fail to take the pledge “wimpy RINOs”: Republicans in name only.
But even Tea Partiers are open to compromise, and Temple would be happy to spare the economy if he could take it out on gays and lesbians in the military. The tea party movement could “possibly forgive Boehner and the House Republicans a small bump in the debt limit” under the right circumstances, said Temple: “If the House Armed Services Committee and the Pentagon slow down on injecting open homosexuality and females into forward combat roles.”
Just so that you don’t think Temple is some accidental outlier, other Tea Party leaders at the same press conference explicitly linked the Tea Party’s economic philosophy (for want of a better word) with homophobia. “If you tell me where you’re at, say on the sanctity of marriage or on some core value issues,” said Bob Vander Plaats, who ran a failing campaign for the GOP nomination for Iowa governor last year. “I’ll tell you where you’re at on economic policy.”
Of course, Tea Partiers resort to novel ideas that drive home their political credibility. For the press conference, Temple dressed in colonial costume (no, not as Martha Washington), complete with rifle. Apparently nothing says deep thinker more than a tri-corner hat.
Photo credit: Evan McMorris-Santoro/Talking Points Memo