Fortunately there was a strong crowd of anti-war, pro-civil rights counter-protesters, both on one corner of the plaza and mingling on the edge of the Tea Partiers' rally.
Many left wing commentators have noted that the Tea Party movement has served as a "useful idiot" for the Republican Party and the portions of the big business elite whom they represent. This is true enough, and it should serve as a warning for how we need to oppose them.
If the left is seen as simply tools of the Democratic Party, we lose all credibility, and justifiably so. Moveon.org and other extensions of the Party are more interested in promoting the Party at all costs while paying lip service to the real hurt that many working people are feeling just days after the federal government released a new round of statistics announcing record foreclosures for the first quarter of 2010.
Yes, we must defend the Obama administration against the racist attacks of the Tea Partiers - while ALSO opposing Obama for the fact that he has done next to nothing for Blacks, Latinos, gays, immigrants and working people in general. Whatever happened to the bold promises of repealing or reforming NAFTA that Clinton and Obama dueled over in the run up to the Ohio primary? Or card check? And that's just the beginning of the list.
Almost all of Obama's promises to the left have been kicked into the second half of the first (only?) term of his Presidency, after the mid-term elections when the Democrats will then have the excuse that they do not have the power to enact their promises into law. By pushing the business elites' priorities - the record bailout to the financial services industry and a maintenance and expansion of Bush-era empire building and attacks on civil liberties - Obama has clearly "played" most of his supporters.
Like with Bill Clinton before him, it has been Obama's accommodations to the right, while taking the left for granted, that have fueled the rightward drift in Washington politics, where "health care reform" metamorphasizes into private health insurance industry preservation, with big fillips to anti-abortion nuts and a freeze on domestic spending along the way.
Our opposition to the Obama administration, while now far smaller than it needs to be, can only be effective if we return to the core demands of our movements - demands that are not designed to give comfort to the administration, but to confront it for continuing the Neanderthal policies of its predecessors: