President Barack Obama used the sexually vulgar expression “tea-baggers” to refer to tea party members in a letter he wrote to a Texas grade school teacher. The term “tea-baggers” has been used to ridicule the tea party, a group of American activists who advocate reducing taxes, shrinking the size of government, and returning to traditional family values. Obama was replying to a letter he received from Thomas Ritter, a 5th grade school teacher from Irving, Texas.
In his letter to the President, Ritter expressed deep concern that the Affordable Care Act was a law that “caused such a divisive, derisive and toxic environment.” Ritter said that he wrote to the President with great trepidation because he feared “retribution.” He asserted, “The reality is that any citizen that disagrees with your administration is targeted and ridiculed.” Moreover, Ritter begged the President to, “Do the right thing not the political thing. Suggest a bill that Americans can support.”
Ritter went on to accuse the President of making fun of “tea-baggers” and blamed White House Press Secretary Jay Carney for ridiculing Sarah Palin, noting that it was “beneath the dignity of the White House” to engage in this kind of political targeting. Obama defended himself, writing, “I… appreciate your concern about the toxic political environment right now. I do have to challenge you, though, on the notion that any citizen that disagrees with me has been ‘targeted and ridiculed’ or that I have ‘made fun’ of tea-baggers.”