The meteoric rise of the grass-roots tea party movement and the ensuing GOP midterm election victories dominated the news in 2010, according to a retrospective of exclusive interviews on Newsmax.TV.
The conservative movement rallied around volatile causes such as Obamacare, the troubled economy, and skyrocketing government spending amid ballooning deficits — and coalesced into a force that put Republicans back in control of the U.S. House.
“This is better than ’94 for a lot of reasons,” former House Majority Leader Dick Armey told Newsmax the day after the November elections. “One, the threat that the nation faced this year is much more onerous, much more frightening, and so, therefore, the victory that allows us to put a cork in the bottle and stop this leftward march that this administration had been making is very exciting to us because we feel like we just stopped it just before it went off the cliff.”
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The conservative juggernaut gathered steam early in the year, when tea party favorite and Obamacare opponent Scott Brown pulled off an upset to win the Massachusetts seat long held by the so-called “Lion of the Senate,” the late Ted Kennedy. One of Brown’s first acts was to vote against healthcare reform.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had engineered a healthcare measure of his own for that state, said of Obamacare, “The way President Obama has gone about it does not make sense at all.”
Obama administration actions also were called into question when an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in April killed 11 people and escalated into a 200-million gallon-oil spill that devastated the ecosystem of Gulf states until the BP well finally was capped in July.
“It’s the equivalent of a major new oil spill every day, and the president needs to be an executive and attack back and command that,” said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.
U.S. involvement in Iraq wound down in 2010 with an end to combat missions in August while the war in Afghanistan moved to the forefront. Gen. David Petraeus assumed command in June, and President Obama said U.S. troops would begin withdrawal in 2011, with an eye toward ending combat operations in 2014.
None too soon for some, including former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who told Newsmax.TV: “Well, I believe we should get out of Afghanistan, I think it’s a terrible mistake to remain there.”
Security screenings at airports increased dramatically during the 2010 holiday travel period as a result of the failed underwear bombing attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day 2009. Travelers were given a choice: a revealing body scan or a pat-down, and many rebelled at the very idea of either.
“It’s the devil’s choice of you can go through this 3-D scanning imager that can be enhanced to save and e-mail your nude pictures anywhere in the world and put them on the Internet or if you don’t want to do that, you can go over here and stand in public while someone gropes your junk,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
In other news of note covered in interviews on Newsmax.TV:
- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, commenting on the unemployment rate, said it seemed to him that “the Obama administration, rather than trying to solve that problem with common sense American solutions is trying to take advantage of it to redefine who we are as a nation.”
- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer defended her state’s controversial immigration law by saying, “People look to Arizona to continue to carrying this fight, not only for Arizona but for America. We want our borders secured.”
- Heated protests over a proposal to build a $100 million mosque and community center near ground zero dominated the summer months into the fall. “I just don’t understand why people who are supposedly building a mosque to talk about tolerance and interfaith understanding could be so un-understanding of the feelings of those of us who were there on September 11th and Americans in general,” said former New York Gov. George Pataki.
- Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in a series of exclusive interviews with Newsmax founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy said Russia takes the nuclear threat that Iran poses seriously. “Remember, Iran is our neighbor and so those who think that we’re not worried about this danger are mistaken. We are worried about Iran.”
- Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North called the WikiLeaks release of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables an “act of terrorism.”
As the country enters 2011 with the war in Afghanistan and unemployment still among the issues dominating the media spotlight, the tea party movement’s influence is expected to continue to be felt after the new Congress is sworn in next week. As faces old and new gauge each other’s mettle, they will set the pace to answer this nettlesome question that has sparked debate in recent weeks: Will the 112th be a Congress of bipartisanship or battles?
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