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Howard Dean says Tea Partiers have been smoking their tea instead of drinking it

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Following the recent downgrade of the U.S.'s triple-A credit rating by Standard & Poor's (who was looking for a $4 trillion debt deal instead of the final deal that cuts between $2.1 to $2.4 trillion), the blame game predictably kicked into high gear. Finding a guilty party to point a finger at has pretty much become a national sport.

If it's not Obama's negligent stewardship, then it's recalcitrant Republicans, or the Tea Party holding negotiations hostage with their "economic terrorism," or Bush tax cuts. Everyone seems to be guilty and innocent at the same time. And isn't it ironic that S&P would downgrade the U.S. after contributing to the mess themselves, by giving dubious, pre-collapse triple-A ratings to some of Wall Street's riskiest packages of mortgage-backed securities and CDO's?

In other words, it's a mess. But the jury is still out on how the U.S. will be affected by the downgrade. Countries that have lost their triple-A rating in the past, like Belgium, Italy, and Spain, experienced only a slight increase in lending rates. And if the downgrade ultimately represents an opinion on the government's unstable "medium-term debt dynamics," then it's hard to argue with.

The Tea Party suddenly seems to be the whipping boy du jour, after Tim Geithner (who will be staying on through 2012) had his day, with Michele Bachmann and others calling for him to walk the plank. The Tea Party now has unfavorable ratings as high as forty percent in some polls. Why, even John Kerry on Sunday called the S&P credit demotion "without question [a] Tea Party downgrade." (Perhaps because Tea Party freshmen got the lack of tax increases they desired.) To be fair, ninety-five House Democrats did vote against raising the debt ceiling vs. sixty-six House Republicans, and twenty-six Democratic Senators did as well.

In the following clip, Howard Dean accuses the Tea Party of smoking their tea bags during a tete a tete with Lindsay Graham on Face the Nation. Their bickering at the conclusion is a sad commentary on the divided state of our nation today.