Chris Matthews and the Thrill of the Chilean Miners and the Tea Party

On Wednesday, Chris Matthews spoke of the Chilean mine rescue efforts. Rather than viewing it as a triumph of the strength of the human spirit, teamwork, and ingenuity, Matthews used this situation to take a gratuitous slap at the Tea Party in an interview with union boss Richard Trumka (yes, that Richard Trumka):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Okay let’s talk about what the…message to a lot of the people was. The message coming out of the Tea Party people, and lot of them are good people, is every man for himself, basically. “No more taxes, no more government, no more everything. No more safety net. No more health care for everybody. Everybody just get out there, make your buck, save it, screw the government, move on.” Right?


MATTHEWS: You know these people, if they were every man for himself down in that mine they [the Chilean miners] wouldn’t have gotten out.

Many of us have been glued to the TV the past few days to see the jubilation of reunited families as each miner was brought to the surface. However, such exciting news must not have given Matthews a “thrill” because he is completely off base, as usual, to suggest the philosophy of the Tea Party would mean the death of the Chilean miners.

The Chilean government employed several methods in concert with each other to make the rescue of the thirty-three miners a success: appropriate governmental support from a conservative leader, foreign assistance, American ingenuity, and prayer. The Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera, who was a constant presence at the rescue site, was the first conservative President elected to lead Chile in 52 years. The Chilean navy engineers developed the rescue capsule that was used. The Chilean government accepted help from the United States including the American ingenuity of a drilling company in Pennsylvania and a contractor in Colorado. The miners relied on faith in God to give them the strength to persevere through more than two months trapped nearly half a mile underground.

Interestingly, the Chileans’ successful response to their national crisis is quite similar to what Governor Palin suggested to the Obama administration during America’s most recent “national crisis”: the Gulf oil spill. Governor Palin, as a conservative leader, suggested accepting foreign assistance, embracing American ingenuity, and prayer.

When the Obama administration was dithering with how to approach the largest environmental disaster in America’s history, Governor Palin was urging him to waive the Jones Act to allow foreign assistance from the Dutch who have experience building sand dikes that could be used to clean up the spill and accepting the offers of help like that of a Maine company that builds booms, as she stated on the O’Reilly Factor in June (emphasis mine):

They can’t even get a phone call returned, Bill. The Dutch. They are known in the Norwegian (sic). They are known for — for dikes and for cleaning up water and for dealing with spills. They offered to help and, yet, no, they too, with a proverbial can’t even get a phone call back. That is what the Norwegians are telling us, and the Dutch are telling us. And then the entrepreneurial Americans, the company in Maine that has the boom and the absorbents, those companies that are waiting for the Obama administration eight weeks later for the regulators to come in and say, OK, we’ll purchase from you now. We’ll do all that we can. That’s where some of the frustration is.

Now, we saw the same thing though with Katrina, didn’t we? So, I’m not going to point fingers and make this a partisan issue at all, point fingers at different administrations. But it is that inherent problem that we have with government, not necessarily being prepared, because our priorities in government are wrong. National security, safety of the people, needs to be the top priority. That’s where we need to be funding instead of funding these other things on the periphery that really just get in the way of the private sector’s progress, their ability to produce and to thrive and to prosper, Instead, our priorities in the national government have been screwed up.

The Obama administration did eventually accept help from the Dutch, but as with most aspects of the oil spill, he was a day late and a dollar short. However, just as the Chilean government did, Governor Palin promoted accepting foreign assistance (by removing isolationist regulations) and called for utilization of American entrepreneurs. Additionally, just as the miners did, she encouraged prayer for those affected by the Gulf spill:

Gulf disaster needs divine intervention as man’s efforts have been futile. Gulf lawmakers designate today Day of Prayer for solution/miracle

So, Mr. Matthews, when faced with a national crisis, Governor Palin’s solutions are congruent with those of the successes in Chile. When the Tea Party calls for less government, they are not calling for anarchy or a non-response to a national crisis. They are calling for a government that is supposed to protect the American people, not burden them with excessive regulation, as Governor Palin said in her appearance on O’Reilly’s show this summer. What we saw with the oil spill is that too often government regulations got in the way of the solving the problems like when oil skimming barges were docked due to too few life jackets (as regulated by the government).

Such a misrepresentation of the Tea Party movement has become common place among the liberal press. The Tea Party is not about no government, it’s about limited government. It is not about an “every man for himself” mentality; it’s about the voluntary generosity of individuals rather than the obligatory redistribution of wealth. It’s about everyday Americans, not the political elite or the Establishment. Just because it’s so good, let’s re-visit what the Tea Party really is:

Does that give anyone a thrill?

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