The first ever Tea Party convention began yesterday, with featured first-day speaker Tom Tancredo raising the curtain and a few eyebrows as well. Slamming both President Obama and former presidential candidate John McCain, Tancredo alleged that the former was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country." Liberal bloggers are laying into Tancredo--a former Republican Congressman--for reminiscing about a policy once used to keep black Southern voters from the polls. Even conservatives are shaking their heads.

  • Let's Ban Blacks from Voting, While We're At It "Given that the convention is being held in Nashville, Tennessee," says Think Progress's Zaid Jilani, the comments about literacy tests "are particularly offensive. For years, literacy tests were used across the South to disenfranchise African-American voters ... Unfortunately for Tancredo," Jilani adds, "the 1965 Voting Rights Act makes literacy tests illegal."
  • Immigrants Are After Us The Nation's John Nichols was more struck by Tancredo's call for to abolish the Congressional Black Caucus and his insistence that immigrants are "coming here to kill you, and you, and me, and my grandchildren." Nichols recalls conservative David Frum's account of a previous Tancredo speech, with onlookers asking "is he serious?" The Tea Party may find that, by inviting Tancredo to speak, people will instead be asking the following: "Are they serious?"
  • You Know What, Maybe We Should Have a Literacy Test, suggests an exasperated David Frum. The first question could be "Who is your favorite founding father?" This is the question Sarah Palin flubbed when interviewed by Glenn Beck.
  • Tea Party Deserves What It'll Get Philadelphia Weekly's Joel Mathis notices that Tea Party nation "is already distancing itself from Tancredo. But Tancredo did what Tancredo does," Mathis contends. "If you don't want the racist-nativist guilt by association, don't invite him to be a speaker. Otherwise, you deserve what you get."