April 19th, 2009
11:18 AM ET
8 years ago

Axelrod suggests 'Tea Party' movement is 'unhealthy'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senior White House adviser David Axelrod on Sunday suggested the "Tea Party" movement is an "unhealthy" reaction to the tough economic climate facing the country.

Axelrod was asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" about the "spreading and very public disaffection" with the president's fiscal policies seen at the "Tea Party" rallies around the country last week.

"I think any time you have severe economic conditions there is always an element of disaffection that can mutate into something that's unhealthy," Axelrod said.

Axelrod appeared to backtrack when pressed on whether the movement is unhealthy.

"Well, this is a country where we value our liberties and our ability to express ourselves, and so far these are expressions," he said.

"The thing that bewilders me is that this president just cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people," Axelrod argued. "I think the tea bags should be directed elsewhere because he certainly understands the burden that people face."

Democratic strategist James Carville disagreed with Axelrod on CNN's "State of the Union" when John King asked him if it's unhealthy for "an American to go out and hold a sign and say 'I think my taxes are too high.'"

Carville said, "No." He called the Tea Party movement "harmless and damaging to Republicans."

On CBS, Axelrod also responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's recent insinuation that his state could secede from the union in response to government overreach under President Obama.

"I don't think that really warrants a serious response," Axelrod said. "I don't think most Texans were all that enthused by the governor's suggestion."

Filed under: David Axelrod • State of the Union
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. The Last Patriot

    The rebuttals to the tea parties are repetitive and bogus. Here they are:

    Participants are racists who are angry about a black president. – Completely fabricated allegation. Tea parties were focused on government spending, they had nothing to do with race.

    Participants are hypocrites because George Bush was a big spender also – Nonsensical. Many protesters are libertarians and independents who have always been concerned with excessive government spending. The only change is that the spending has increased at an alarming rate. And even so, this charge is a tacit admission that big government spending is detrimental.

    Protests are inauthentic "astroturf" events promoted by Fox news and conservative organizations – Not true. Most protests were organized by local concerned citizens, and at most promoted by Fox News. But even if it were the case, this charge is a red herring – it has nothing to do with the substance of the protests.

    Tea parties are "unhealthy" or some implication that participants are "dangerous" – Baseless. Tea parties were peaceful gatherings of individuals taking advantage of first amendment rights. Again, this is a diversion from the substance of the protest. Classic "attack the messenger" strategy.

    Protesters are "teabaggers" – Classic sign of a losing position, result to childish name calling.

    I've still yet to see a tea party basher address the issue of government spending head on. Does someone really favor profligate, wasteful, political payola in which congress burdens our children with a huge debt, without even reading the bills in question? Will someone really defend this?

    April 19, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |

    Tea Parties were awesome!! They were not about raceism, they were about the inflation and raising of Taxes. Actually a lot of people were able to show their concerns on what the house, senate and OBama is trying to do to our Constitution.
    To answer Jeff W.'s question, We did not have these Tea Party's when Bush was in office, because we did not need them!!!!
    Obama is..".One Big A Mistake America!!"

    April 19, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Enlightened Voter

    Republicans say they want small government yet want to tell you who to marry and what to do with your body. They say they are pro life yet love war, hunting, guns and the death penalty. They say they are christians yet spout fear while touting their bibles with their hearts wrapped in hate. They want small government yet are quick to bail out the banks and want to spend massive amounts on defense. They say they love america yet hate don't care about the enviornment. All this is why i can NEVER be a republican.

    April 19, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Chipster

    I hear what these people are saying but I just don't get it. The previous administration increased the deficit by more than $4 trillion and these folks must have been living in caves somewhere. They never twittered one tweet or dunked one tea bag about the debt being left to our children and grandchildren! Now that we have continue to pay tens of $billions per year for the useless war in Iraq until the new president can extricate us, but we must invest even more to prop up the disastrous economy left behind.

    Where were these tea baggers for the past 8 years?

    I must also admit confusion because this was supposed to be about taxes, yet I saw all sorts of signs about socialism, white supremacy, Iraq, gun rights, etc. It was really a hodge-podge of protests.

    April 19, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    i think the "tea party" idea was a good idea however i heard NO message. i think the people are mad at both parties in washington ie: pork spending from both sides. i think their message was LOST when FOX news hannity,beck,an others jumped in an made it an obama bashing. this fueled hatred among the crowd an over-powered what the group was trying to portray. this was not successful to america in my opinion,it only made the deep conservative republicans look like jerks.

    April 19, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. The Dude

    "Did anyone speak up about the protests of Cindy Shehan or Code Pink being "unhealthy". "

    What???!!!??!?!?!? The right-wing went after these protesters with a level of hatred that only they can. They were called every name in the book, and had their patriotism called into question. What hypocrisy on your part.

    April 19, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. Kevin B

    The tea party "movement" is a creation of the monied elite to manipulate the willfully uninformed and easily mislead middle class to fight for the wealthy's tax breaks set to expire in 2010.

    The full court press by fox news and rich talk radio personalities in promoting the "rallies" delegitimize any simbalance of a "grassroots "movement.

    It is sad to see how easily some americans are being manipulated against there very own interest by the visceral hate of the Obama administration by greedy and hateful.

    April 19, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. Henry

    Demonstrations against the size of government and taxes is great; I applaud that. However, when, in these demonstrations we start comparing Obama to a socialist and a communist and a fascist and a monkey, we accomplish NOTHING.

    Organizers say that those people do not speak for those with honest concerns. Well, they are at your demonstration. Get rid of them so they do not reflect poorly on you.

    April 19, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Get A Clue 11:47:
    I, along with Mr. Axelrood and the rest of the three hundred million people of our country who didn't attend, know "full well" what the premise behind the Tea Party was.

    April 19, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. The Dude

    "If you aren't angry, you aren't paying attention."

    I am angry that the Bush Administration put the country in a position that made it necessary for the new administration to spend so much.

    April 19, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. Tough Lady NC

    To Chuck and Enlightened Voter: I agree with you 100%. It was a Sarah Palin and Joe the non plumber crowd. Why weren't these people at work like the rest of us. The signs and comments were filled with hate. This is what the republican party has resorted to.

    April 19, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. ds, USA

    Torture and teabagging two great traits of the GOP.

    April 19, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. Jack CArlson

    Shows Axelrod's disdain for the Constitution – our ADM is full of those – and they need to be watched very closely. Nov 2010 they will be out and I"m a Democrat (they are liars).
    Jack C

    April 19, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Larry

    It's UNHEALTHY for the Democrats that are trying to "CHANGE" our country into SOCIALISM and bankrupt us.

    Democrats WILL NOT BE RE-ELECTED-thank God !!!

    April 19, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. DaveS

    Right-wingers just don't get it. Peaceful protesting went out of style in the days of the anitwar demonstrators who trashed their own campusses and neighborhoods to make their "point".

    What the left is really saying in their disdainful criticizm of the Tea Party demosntrators is that Taxed Enough Already are rank amateurs at the art of protest. The left is the true pioneer of demonstration without substance, and TEA, by incorporating substance into their protest, shows thenselves to be intellectually retrogressive and inferior.

    After all, anybody can make a case where a case exists. The left has historically been creative in obfuscating the absense of a case. That is the true mark of superiority.

    April 19, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  16. Bud in NC

    As an unapolagetic died in the wool LIBERAL, I have no problem at all with the tea-baggers. It is just simply people protesting peacefully in the American tradition.
    What are they protesting? I believe that this country and world are in such a topsy turvy turmoil with problems everywhere that people just feel upset, confused and angry. And they want to express it openly. OK by me. I too am upset, confused and angry. We want some order and sanity. So my tea-bagging neighbors, you ordinary people like me, you have my support.

    April 19, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. S Callahan

    I love David...a brillant mind and a empathetic heart.

    The tea parties are an avenue for frustration..it's not about the tax cuts for the people..it's about bailing out HUGE corporations who mishandled this own house (monies) and used the public to make things right...I think the better term is corporate welfare. When you have Mr. and Mrs of Main Street just making it and watch this happen it becomes very frustrating..and seeing the bonuses given out just fuels the fire.

    Aside from that...David please press on to get the release of Roxana Saberi, Esha Momeni and Robert Levinson! Thanks...God is with you on this.

    April 19, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  18. Larry

    From what I'm reading 70 percent of the American public like everything Obamas doing

    So if 30 percent of the people want to have tea parties ... go ahead

    The rest of us will be busy keeping this great country alive, after 8 years of Republican poison ...

    April 19, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Andy

    Yes, it is unhealthy to exercise constitutional rights in the United States...thank you David Arselrod. Time for the Illuminati in Washington to ban all Freedoms so no one can oppose the One. The anger here is with all Dems and Reps who put us here, and all you who support them....

    April 19, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. manhandler

    I am not a Republican OR a Democrat, but I am savy enough to know that all this insane spending of taxpayers money is gonna have to be paid back......WITH INTEREST. And that interest, which will be bazillions of dollars, will be going to the Chinese because they are the ones purchasing the Government bonds to finance this disaster in waiting. While most Americans have a positive view of Obama, most every poll I've read says a great portion of the population think this spendathon is bad.

    So all these "geniuses" who prattle on about people like me being right wing extremists should put their brains in second gear and get off the Kool Aid. These people who are now and who have been our so called "representatives" are stealing our money. It's eventually gonna take a huge "across the board " tax increase to pay it back. There are not enough "rich" people to do it. A pox on all these idiots houses. Both parties have run amok and we're the ones who are gonna pay for it.

    April 19, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Glennis

    In other words, if people happen to disagree with this administration and the direction they're taking us, there must be something wrong with them? As for the so-called tax cuts for 95% of Americans....hogwash. Axelrod is just one of the many patroninzing, dismissive, out of touch fools entrenched in this administration.

    April 19, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  22. Mark

    Mike in NYC. Please don't call me WHITE. I prefer to be called a European American 🙂

    April 19, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Tom

    Obama Administration translation: "unhealthy" means you disagree and don't blindly follow our words. Since when is any debate or difference of opinion unhealthy in a democracy?

    April 19, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. SukieTawdry

    Axelturf calls us "unhealthy" and I understand the president was downright "furious" about the tea parties he hadn't heard anything about. CNN sends an airhead reporterette who couldn't get a job at the leading cable news network to berate and ridicule rally attendees. It's anchors and "analysts" giggle like the arrested adolescents they are and indulge themselves in sophomoric frat house potty humor. The Obamabots, as is their wont, play their tattered racist card. All concerned pretend to not understand what motivates tens of thousands of ordinary people to raise a collective voice that is seldom provided fora and summarily dismissed when it is. If I didn't know better, I'd think all of the aforementioned were just plain scared of the phenomenon. Well, be afraid, very afraid.

    April 19, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. ralph

    Axlerod needs to read the Declaration of Independence, and the First Amendment to the Constution again. I thought being Liberal meant entertaining all ideas, and protecting free speech. I guess the first amendment only protects certain people, and certain ideas, under our new overlord. Dig the new boss, same as the old boss. We just got fooled again.

    April 19, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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