Inside the Beltway


Some fret that MSNBC’s decision to air Timothy McVeigh’s confession for the Oklahoma City bombing 15 years ago is an attempt to link that crime with the “tea party” movement. Hosted by Rachel Maddow, “The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist” airs Monday night and includes McVeigh’s “chilling confession” in his own words for the first time, with “insight into how a decorated American soldier became a dangerous, anti-government terrorist,” the network says.

“Maddow’s message is that tea party fervor and an anti-Washington mood are precursors to domestic terrorism akin to Oklahoma City bombing,” says Colin Hanna, president of the grass-roots group Let Freedom Ring.

“This special is the culmination of a yearlong campaign attempting to link the tea party movement to fringe violence, starting with a federal government report tagging principled conservatives as violent extremists,” Mr. Hanna continues. “These smears have been bubbling up for months in the mainstream media. Every fringe lunatic, every tragic killing is attributed to conservative ideas or boisterous media personalities.”

The phenomenon has been building. Just more than a year ago, an intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement officials about a rise in “right-wing extremist activity,” blaming the trend on economic recession, the election of America’s first black president, disgruntled war veterans and people opposed to abortion or immigration.

At the time, American Legion chief David Rehbein called the report “incomplete, and, I fear, politically biased,” among other things.

“The evidence is clear that as the tea party message has taken hold, liberals are growing increasingly desperate and the tired slogans aren’t sticking,” says Mr. Hanna, who already has challenged Ms. Maddow to debate the topic. “Instead of engaging the tea party movement on the issues of economic freedom, government intrusion and individual fiscal responsibility, MSNBC’s primetime star is turning one of the nation’s great tragedies into a cheap political talking point.”


The big fat federal bank bailout has morphed into a cultural phenomenon: It’s become a tool to gauge political trustworthiness. Fifty-seven percent of Americans would trust a lawmaker who voted against the bailouts more than a member of Congress who favored them, says a new Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted April 14 and 15. Twenty-one percent would trust the bailout-friendly lawmaker.

But wait. A classic Ronald Reagan-ism is still viable. Fifty-six percent also say they agree with Mr. Reagan’s statement, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” made Jan. 20, 1981, during his first inauguration speech. The phrase, by the way, is available as a cell-phone ring tone from Myxer, a “mobile entertainment and device personalization” company. Preview it here:


“What Washington needs is adult supervision.”

(Bumper sticker spotted in Arlington, Va.)


The growing wave of support for Marco Rubio could turn into a tsunami. The conservative challenger to Gov. Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida has picked up the endorsement of Mitt Romney - who will appear with the young hopeful in Tampa on Monday.

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About the Author


A graduate of Syracuse University, Jennifer Harper writes the daily Inside the Beltway column and provides additional coverage of breaking national news, plus long-term trends in politics, media issues, public opinion, popular culture, Hollywood foibles and “eureka” moments in health and science.

She has been a frequent broadcast commentator on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Voice of America, Citadel Broadcasting, ...

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