Pam Stout can check another New York institution off her list. The British-born president of the Sandpoint Tea Party, who last month was featured in an extensive New York Times piece about the tea party movement, faced off with David Letterman on the Late Show last night.
The interview (see below) was civil, sincere, and mostly serious. Letterman, who has spent the last six months in a teeth-bared battle with tea party darling Sarah Palin, showed gracious restraint with Stout, even when Stout mentioned that Palin might be a candidate for president in 2012. In fact, Letterman — who claimed (perhaps disingenuously) that he knew little of the movement — said he sympathized with the tea party sentiment that things weren't going well in America. But, he asked, might they not be getting a little bit better?
"Unfortunately, no," Stout replied. "We need business to succeed. There's no jobs without businesses." This won her a hearty applause, as did the assertion that the country needs to regain its sense of individual responsibility. "We need to give that back to the people," she said. "We need to give them a sense that America is a great place to live and that you can succeed. To be satisfied with living on welfare in public housing — to me, that's sad."
But Letterman stole some applause, too, especially when Stout asserted that refusing to bail out failed auto companies and banks would have allowed healthier, more robust companies to come to the rescue. "There'd still be a need for cars," she said. "Somebody else would start producing more and those jobs would be retained."
Letterman was quick with a reply: "It would be China. And these jobs would be gone forever."
Check out the video for yourself: