Rick Santelli is the star of perhaps the most politically consequential online video, viral to the extreme, of the past year (right). On February 19, 2009 he let loose on the Obama administration's economic policies on CNBC's "Squawk Box", calling for a "tea party", and inspiring millions of Americans to speak out against what he and many others see as collectivist economics policies pursued by the President and Congress..
“That was spontaneous, absolutely,” he said in an interview with the Daily Caller. “It was also from the heart, and I had no idea of the direction it would take or the response it would get.”
Almost a year later, Santelli is widely seen as the godfather of a large political coalition that, according to some polls, rivals the two major parties in popularity. The Tea Party protesters staged 48 simultaneous protests on tax day last year, a rally on the lawn of the Capitol with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of attendees, and will hold its own convention this week, with Sarah Palin giving the keynote address.
The media's coverage of the protests, and the policies that inspired them, Santelli insists has been less than stellar. "Most of the mainstream coverage of most of the crisis — the economy, the road to get here, and the Tea Party — has been very much lacking," he told the Daily Caller.
The liberal media has done it's best to portray the protesters as racists, extremists, hatemongers, and even "wimpy, whiny weasels who don't love their country" and "nothing but a bunch of tea-bagging rednecks."
But Santelli sees the MSM's knee-jerk reactions to the protests as signs of the movement's success. "The fact that many traditional media avenues that have ignored or belittled the tea parties all of a sudden seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time trying to understand and explain them, I think that alone gives credibility to their girth."
For his part, Santelli is content with remaining on the political sidelines, pleasantly observing the movement he helped create. "I try to avoid political ties," he says. "I’m pretty darn happy with my day job. At the end of the day, the markets are my passion."
So while his CNBC colleague Larry Kudlow contemplates a run against New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Santelli intends to dash the hopes of anyone who wished to send him to Washington. As he said in his monumental rant last February, "do you think I want to take a shower every hour? The last place I'm ever going to live or work is D.C."
“In my life, a very small amount of minutes made a difference," he told the Daily Caller. "I just find that to be one of the things that makes our country great and makes me very proud that I was a part of that."