This event was organized by members of the Fairfield-based Cincinnati Tea Party as well as the Cincinnati 9/12 Project. While the march around Carew Tower was meant to send a message to Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) of Ohio's first district (whose office is inside Carew Tower), there were many people in attendance who were not constitutes of Driehaus. One protester was commenting on how she drove from Liberty Township to attend the event while others commented that they lived outside of Driehaus' district.
This event was the culmination of a week of protests that were staged at various exit ramps off of I-275, where members would hand out leaflets and other information on health care reform. I-275 was a symbolic choice as the highway literally "surrounds" the city of Cincinnati and the message of "We Surround Them" has been a central theme in Glenn Beck's 9/12 Project.
After the march, the protesters gathered on Fountain Square to hear speakers, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and listen to Lee Greenwood's patriotic anthem "God Bless the USA".
Chris Littleton, Director of the Cincinnati Tea Party, was the first to speak and he drove home the point that the while the Tea Party movement "has no problem" with health care reform, they believe that government intervention in the health care system will lead this country down a "slippery-slope" toward a single payer system and eventually, wealth redistribution. Littleton made the statement that the current health care system is broken due to the government's attempts at regulations and challenged the crowd to name something good that the government has done in the past 100 years.
Littleton chided the creation of the Department of Energy as well as the Department of Education mockingly saying "...that has really worked out well hasn't it?" Littleton did not cite any specific statistics to explain why he believed that these Departments were a problem, but the crowd seemed to agree as a chorus of boo's came in response to the mention of the Department of Education. It was also unclear as to what Littleton meant when he stated that former President Carter created the Department of Energy to stop "our dependence on energy".
Founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party, Mike Wilson, then took to the stage to exclaim that he didn't really want to be at the rally since it was the homecoming game for the Cincinnati Bearcats, but that he felt it was important to make the time for this cause. Wilson, criticized the mainstream media for ignoring stories like that of the undercover operation that recently took place by two Conservative activists who sought advice from ACORN employees while dressing and posing as a pimp and a prostitute. It is unclear which media outlets Wilson feels have ignored the story as a quick Google search shows a wide-range of coverage on this topic.
Cheers erupted from the crowd as Wilson asked if anyone listens to Glenn Beck. Wilson claimed that Beck is one of those in the media who are bringing important stories to light. Wilson cited the resignation of Van Jones from the Obama Administration as an accomplishment to Glenn Beck and stated that the White House is so afraid of Fox News and talk radio because they are always "scooping" outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post. Wilson also spoke of Glenn Beck's latest target within the Obama Administration, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn. Wilson stated, as Beck has done, that Dunn said that two political philosophers that she turns to the most are Mother Theresa and Mao-Tse-Tung...apparently further "evidence" of socialism/communism in the Obama White House.
It is important to note that, Crooks and Liars has shown how Beck edited Dunn's quote to serve his purpose. Here is the Dunn quote that Beck ran:
"[T]wo of my favorite political philosophers, Mao Tse-Tung and Mother Teresa, not often coupled with each other, but the two people that I turn to most ..."
and here is the full quote:
"The third lesson and tip actually comes from two of my favorite political philosophers: Mao Tse-tung and Mother Theresa -- not often coupled with each other, but the two people I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point which is 'you're going to make choices; you're going to challenge; you're going to say why not; you're going to figure out how to do things that have never been done before."
This distortion was not addressed by Wilson, nor was the fact that Beck has lost dozens of advertisers on his program ever since he labeled President Obama as a "racist". What was addressed was how Wilson feels that the government is unfairly infringing in the lives of Americans and how health care reform is just another way that the government will be telling people what to do. Wilson's example of how government is currently overstepping its boundaries was how the school that his son attends apparently prevented his son from eating sugar-free pudding that Wilson had packed for him because it wasn't in one of the food groups that is approved of by the Department of Agriculture. "You know what? It's my life!" shouted Wilson.
The final speaker at the event was former Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) who will be running against Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) to try and earn back his seat in Congress that Driehaus took from him in 2008. Chabot compared the Presidency of Barack Obama to that of the runaway balloon that received lots of coverage a few weeks ago: "Lofty and shiny at first, but found to be nothing but hot air and empty after crashing to the ground."
Chabot claimed that politicians and "their special interest friends" are trying to push through government health care that would "increase health insurance costs" and "increase the deficit". There was no mention of the score that the Congressional Budget Office gave the legislation put forth by the Senate Finance Committee which states that this particular bill will actually reduce the deficit by $81 billion over a 10 year period.
Chabot went on to claim that the Tea Party movement is important because they "are helping to educate your fellow Americans about the truth about what is actually taking place in Washington."
"The Washington establishment and their allies in the mainstream press said that you were just the Fox-watching political fringe, a temporary bump in the road. Well, they know better now," Chabot exclaimed. Chabot embraced the Tea Party movement and the 9/12 Project by associating himself with the movement, often using the term "we" and "us" in describing "Republicans or Conservatives or tea-partiers or 9/12'ers or whatever you want to call us..."
Chabot concluded by stating that the country will be "taken back" by Conservatives and Republicans. "No moderates!" shouted a woman from the crowd as Chabot insisted that the "left-wing agenda" of the last year can "do a lot of damage" and will be "hard to reverse" in the future. Chabot told tea-party founder Mike Wilson that he hopes to work with him once he is back in Congress and once Wilson gets elected to the Statehouse (which Wilson is running for to "fight back against the Federal Government").
There was much criticism of of Rep. Steve Driehaus by former Congressman Chabot due to Driehaus not agreeing to speak at this event. "It's unfortunate that Steve Driehaus chose not to show up today to listen to your concerns," Chabot stated, "and finally tell us where he stands on the important health care issue. Although he has been particularly cagey in letting his constitutes, you, know where he stands, he did find time to let Howard Dean know that he supports the so-called public option plan."
Though Driehaus did not speak at this event, it is important to note that it is not completely accurate to imply that Driehaus has been hiding from the public or failing to let people know where he stands on issues of health care. Rep. Driehaus has held multiple town hall meetings on the topic of health care, during which he was repeatedly shouted down and booed by members of the same organizations that sponsored this rally on Fountain Square. You can view footage of these town hall meetings at links here, here, here, and here.
The Fountain Square event concluded with the singing of "God Bless America" as well as a call for donations to help pay for the event on the square by members of the Tea Party organization. "It's on my credit card right now," joked Director Chris Littleton, "and that gets really scary for me."
Below is some video that I took at the event so that you can see what took place and discuss the topic further:
This piece is cross posted here.