Cognitive Dissonance of the Week

The Syracuse Post-Standard has a fascinating report on one of the leaders of the local “tea-party” protest this week—you know the ones fired up by CNBC’s Rick Santelli and Fox News and the like.

Joanne Wilder has never protested anything in public before. She’s never boxed with City Hall, let alone Washington…

But today in downtown Syracuse, the 60-year-old great-grandmother will lead a Tax Day Tea Party protest against the spending policies of the Obama administration and Congress.

Opens like your standard metro-desk one-day profile. Nothing special.

But then the Post-Standard gets to the motivations of her involvement—something that’s clearly not a one-off sentiment and gives a glimpse at what’s in part driving this inchoate movement:

Wilder and Smith said the events are not political, not aimed solely at Obama or the Democrats in Congress.

“This is not a Democratic problem. Not a Republican problem. It’s all of them together,” Wilder said.

They concede they did not publicly object as the federal budget deficit soared during the Bush administration.

“President Bush kept me safe,” Wilder said as an explanation.

And our boy Santelli, the Brooks Brothers populist, is indeed Wilder’s inspiration. Her counterpart, Smith, who led another protest, was inspired by the increasingly deranged Glenn Beck (last seen promoting secession on WSJ sister network Fox).

The two credited the February televised rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli against a federal bailout of poor homeowners who can’t pay their mortgages for transforming them from passive listeners of conservative talk radio into rabble rousers.

But check this out:

(Wilder) said she retired on disability from M&T Bank three years ago after undergoing knee replacement and back surgeries. She lives on her Social Security and disability benefits. Last year, she petitioned the bankruptcy court for protection from creditors.

She said she did not have to pay federal income taxes last year because her income was too low.

“I don’t want to see this country turn into a welfare, nanny state, where we stand in line for groceries, and we’re in welfare lines, and in socialized medicine lines,” Wilder said.

Wow. What can you say to that?

(h/t Atrios)

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.