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Tea-party hobbits? Hardly, say indignant Tolkien scholars.

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Indeed, Tolkien experts argue vast differences in character, values, and outlook between hobbits and the tea party.

“A reference to hobbits who vanquish Mordor, such as Senator McCain made, should be complimentary instead of disparaging,” says Wayne Hammond, recent author of “The Art of the Hobbit” and librarian at the rare books library at Williams College. “Frodo volunteers to take the Ring out of a sense of duty, not only to his own folk but to all of the free peoples of Middle-earth, while Sam, Merry, and Pippin follow him out of love and friendship as well as their own sense of obligation to humanity. Members of the Tea Party seem to share none of these values.”

(Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky, a leading tea party member, appears to agree. Calling hobbits "heroes" and McCain a “troll,” he said, “I’d rather be a hobbit than a troll.")

Frodo Baggins and his uncle Bilbo Baggins are the most famous hobbits in Tolkien’s trilogy, much of which was written during World War II. The novels center around a drama where Frodo and friends leave their beloved homes to help a series of trolls, fairies, elves, and humans destroy an evil ring controlled by the disembodied, demonic force of Sauron.

Mr. Fisher, author of the recent “Tolkien and the Study of His Sources,” is sure that hobbits have little in common with the Tea Party, whose members are mostly white southerners who have not so far appeared on the House floor without shoes, as hobbits would.

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