House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday repeated her accusation that the Republican Party is orchestrating some of the activities of the Tea Party movement. Nevertheless she believes the movement shares some views with Democrats.
Pelosi, who has represented California's 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for approaching 23 years, spoke Sunday on the ABC program "This Week" and repeated an accusation she has made regarding the alleged link between the GOP and the Tea Party movement.
Responding to questions from Elizabeth Vargas of ABC the House Speaker again used the term "Astroturf" when referring to what she believes is the Republican Party "hijacking the good intentions of lots of people who share some of our concerns".
Asked by Vargas if the Tea Party is a force, returning to previous comments she had made when talking about the movement, Pelosi said:No – No what I said at the time is, that they were -- the Republican Party directs a lot of what the Tea Party does, but not everybody in the Tea Party takes direction from the Republican Party. And so there was a lot of, shall we say, Astroturf, as opposed to grassroots.
But, you know, we share some of the views of the Tea Partiers in terms of the role of special interest in Washington, D.C., as -- it just has to stop. And that's why I've fought the special interest, whether it's on energy, whether it's on health insurance, whether it's on pharmaceuticals and the rest
One instance of Nancy Pelosi questioning the authenticity of the Tea Party movement was reported by Think Progress in April 2009.
On that occasion Pelosi was quoted as saying when appearing on KTVU News, which is shown in the San Francisco area:What they want is a continuation of the failed economic policies of President George Bush which got us in the situation we are in now. What we want is a new direction. … This [tea party] initiative is funded by the high end — we call call it astroturf, it’s not really a grassroots movement. It’s astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle classThink Progress appeared to be lending support to Pelosi's claims when it noted that Tea Party events have been organized by what it describes as "the well-funded right-wing think tanks Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works".
But Pelosi has also drawn angry responses from her opponents in respect of comments she has made in which she has seemingly either tried to compare Tea Party activists in some way to Nazis or complained about their use of Nazi symbols when protesting against the policies of President Obama.
Also in April 2009 the Weekly Standard stated that Tea Party activists had indeed been compared to Nazis, although it attributes the comparison to a senior aide to House Democratic leaders and not specifically Nancy Pelosi.
Confirming Pelosi's "Astroturf" accusation around that time the Weekly Standard highlighted a document circulated to the media by the unnamed aide which apparently spoke of "neo-Nazis, militias, secessionists and racists" attending Tea Party events and reporters needing protection from the police while at a Tea Party event in Cincinnati.
Then in August the Washington Times opined that the House Speaker had not been offended when placards suggesting former President George W. Bush was a Nazi were carried by protesters in her own Congressional district.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh entered that same row over the use of Nazi imagery.
According to the Los Angeles Times Limbaugh repeated an observation by the Sweetness & Light blog that the logo created for President Obama's healthcare program was similar to Nazi symbols.
Limbaugh paraphrased the same blog when he explained why he thinks it is the Democratic Party that has much in common with the Nazi Party that ruled in Germany from 1933 through 1945 under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. He asserted:Well, the Nazis were against big business -- they hated big business. And of course we all know that they were opposed to Jewish capitalism. They were insanely, irrationally against pollution. They were for two years mandatory voluntary service to Germany. They had a whole bunch of make-work projects to keep people working, one of which was the Autobahn. They were against cruelty and vivisection of animals, but in the radical sense of devaluing human life, they banned smoking. They were totally against that. They were for abortion and euthanasia of the undesirables, as we all know, and they were for cradle-to-grave nationalized healthcare