The financial analyst credited with kickstarting the Tea Party movement couldn’t handle the truth when a CNBC host happened to point out that almost everything he had ever predicted had been horribly, laughably wrong.
Rick Santelli, who reports from the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, made a name for himself in 2009 when, during a live report, he went a bit nuts and began railing against President Obama and the Washington rank-and-file over their support of the economic bailout. Conservatives latched onto the message and the rest – including an ill-conceived flood of Tea Party candidates being swept into office in 2010 – is history.
The crux of Santelli’s argument is that Obama was going to continue to tank the economy by causing rapid inflation leading to the downfall of the U.S. dollar as an international currency. Obviously, none of which has happened. In fact, the economy has been making gains in jobs and GDP that even surprise optimistic forecasters. The dollar is still prized, albeit slightly battered. There was no hyperinflation. The doom and gloom was premature and foolhardy. But don’t tell Santelli; despite the real world evidence, he is still convinced that he was on to something five years ago.
While discussing the Federal Reserve, Santelli began to follow his well-worn talking points about how badly things are about to get for the economy, but the other hosts, especially Steve Liesman, weren’t having any of it.
“It’s impossible for you to have been more wrong, Rick. Your call for inflation, the destruction of the dollar, the failure of the U.S. economy to rebound. Rick, it’s impossible for you to have been more wrong. Every single bit of advice you gave would have lost people money, Rick… There is no piece of advice that you’ve given that’s worked, Rick. Not a single one… The higher interest rates never came. The inability of the U.S. to sell bonds never happened. The dollar never crashed, Rick. There isn’t a single one that’s worked for you.”
Did Liesman’s thorough debunking of Santelli’s fear-mongering change his mind? Of course not. Santelli has proven himself incapable of self-evaluation. What it does expose is just how weak the Tea Party’s claim to intellectual honesty really is. Here is the man they have rallied behind for five years. And in those five years, nothing he had predicted has come to pass. What an incredible legacy of failure for a man who claims to be an expert on the economy.
That isn’t to say Liesman didn’t succeed. At the very least he got Santelli to shut up and walk off camera in a rage. For that, we all owe him a debt of gratitude.