Posted by | May 6, 2010 19:54 | Filed under: Top Stories

In Jonathan Alter’s new book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, President Obama is quoted from an interview on November 30, 2009, commenting on how the Republicans’ unanimous vote against the stimulus package “set the tenor for the whole year … That helped to create the tea-baggers and empowered that whole wing of the Republican Party to where it now controls the agenda for the Republicans.”

It is being additionally claimed that he used it a second time, having been quoted in a New York Times blog by Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer as having said the word “teabag” during a pep talk with Democrats.

Mr. Obama, during his private pep talk to Democrats, recognized Mr. Owens’s election and then posed a question to the other lawmakers. According to Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who supports the health care bill, the president asked, “Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care? All it will do is confuse and dispirit” Democratic voters “and it will encourage the extremists.”

Blumenauer’s office tells Mediaite that the congressman was paraphrasing, so the president likely never said it in that meeting.  However, forgotten in all this is that the term “teabagger” was originated by the people who are using the tea bag symbol to make political points.  Conservative Jay Nordlinger at NRO explains the history of the term and how the tea party movement used to inflict the term on the president and on liberals (h/t Tommy Christopher at Mediaite):

The first big day for this movement was Tax Day, April 15 [2009]. And organizers had a gimmick. They asked people to send a tea bag to the Oval Office. One of the exhortations was “Tea Bag the Fools in D.C.” A protester was spotted with a sign saying, “Tea Bag the Liberal Dems Before They Tea Bag You.” So, conservatives started it: started with this terminology. But others ran with it and ran with it.

Dave Weigel pegs the date to February 27, 2009, where anti-Obama, anti-liberal protesters waved signs like the one pictured at an event in Washington DC.  An April 1, 2009 tea party site blares, “Tea Bag the Fools in DC.”  Tommy sums up the intent:

The suggestion is that the metaphoric “tea-bags” be shoved in the mouths of the President, Democratic members of Congress, and even ordinary citizens who identify as liberal Democrats. The idea that they just didn’t know the term’s only (at that time) meaning is belied by the fact that they obviously knew it was negative (and non-consensual), since they didn’t want it done to them…”

So they only began to object to the term and refer to it as a “slur” when it got turned back on them. If they could have kept the term going in the direction of the president and the liberals, that would have served their purposes, but they couldn’t control usage once it was out there.  Suddenly, to them,  the term wasn’t so nice.

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By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.