John Laird: Rest assured, less-government crowd is alive and kicking

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

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Last month, I speculated about the demise of the Tea Party. Recent departures from elected office of pit bulls Jim DeMint, Allen West, Joe Walsh and others seemed to signal the movement's fade into irrelevance. Then came the fiscal-cliff bill, and now the Tea Party is livelier than ever. After reviewing my Dec. 9 column, a confession is in order:

I was wr …

I was wron …

I was misquoted!

The 113th Congress finds the Tea Party back in full throat. Whether it's opposing hurricane relief or trashing GOP brethren, the rowdy bunch is breaking furniture again, and John Boehner is scurrying around, looking for duct tape. U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., snarled that "anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee should have their head examined."

In the immortal words of Barack Obama, please proceed.

"People in my party, they wonder why they're becoming a minority party. They've written me off, and they're going to have a hard time getting my vote," King thundered.

Dissent within the GOP led cnn.com contributor Michael Wolraich to wonder, "What if the conservative Republicans are really that crazy? What if they are so committed to their agenda and dismissive of their constituents that they allow unemployment to rise, interest rates to skyrocket, government services to disappear, seniors to lose their Social Security checks and other catastrophic consequences of debt defaults and government shutdowns? If that is the case, however unlikely, then we will only have to survive until the next election, at which point the Republicans will discover that suicide bombings produce only one guaranteed casualty: the bomber himself."

I'm not convinced the Republicans are so seriously wounded — certainly not at our local level.

Pitchforks in Clark County

Here, the less-government crowd is uplifted by the ascension of David Madore to county commissioner. Boy, howdy, this guy's swearing-in Wednesday looked like JFK Airport on Feb. 7, 1964, the day the Beatles arrived. CVTV's video of the swearing-in helped me recall a lesson I learned years ago about gigs as a public speaker: Never ask your friends to stand up. But I lack Madore's self-esteem, and his invitation revealed robust support.

After Madore was sworn in, it became clear this was all about Mr. Madore. Moving to a microphone to make sure he could be heard, Madore proceeded to — not kidding — swear himself in again. Then a guy from the audience prayed. Then another guy prayed. Then a third guy prayed.

Viewing the video, I tried to channel a man standing near Madore, also with his head bowed, Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart. Not sure here, but my reading was that Stuart was reminiscing about another solemn moment in everyone's life, the prayer scene in the 1983 film classic "National Lampoon Vacation." When Clark Griswold was asked to deliver a rainstorm prayer for the surprisingly deceased Aunt Edna, Clark asked the Lord to "give her a break."

Longtime local observers believe Madore's swearing-in was the first time a prayer had been uttered at such an event in three decades. After this triple shot of supplications, everyone was "All Prayed Up," as bluegrass genius Vince Gill sings, and it was time to gut some government.

Actually, Madore already had launched that process. Two weeks before being sworn in, he asked commissioners to change funding of the Columbia River Economic Development Council from biennial to monthly. He also decided to make some friends in Battle Ground, Ridgefield and Yacolt by asking them to replace their C-Tran board reps. His first day in office, Madore made friends in county offices by asking to see county bills before they're paid.

Yes, pitchfork-pounders are awakening across America, especially in Clark County. So forget Aunt Edna, Clark. Say a little prayer for Boehner and Stuart.