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Step Away, Sarah

February 8, 2010

Of all the accounts of Saturday’s National Tea Party Convention that I’ve read, Kleinheider over at the Nashville Post has the one that I simultaneously believe and hope is not true:

Sarah Palin didn’t give a tea party speech last night. She gave a partisan Republican address. It was a purely political speech designed to position her for a presidential run in 2012 or 2016. Period. She wasn’t there to celebrate the organic nature of a movement she had nothing to do with creating. She was there to co-opt the name and claim the brand as hers. And she did.

The movement, that came to be officially recognized almost a year ago but whose roots go back further than that, has been snuffed out and replaced in the public mind. The movement that began as a people’s movement of angry independent, libertarians and conservatives will now be thought as the movement of people like Palin, Dick Armey, Judson Phillips, Mark Skoda, etc. Essentially, a wholly owned subsidiary of the “Official Conservative Movement” and the Republican Party.

Dammit (for lack of a better word).  I had long suspected that somebody would come along and pirate the Tea Party name as a means for opposing the Democrats without putting in the effort to build a base.  That sounds like it’s exactly what Sarah Palin just did.  As Kleinheider notes, what has the Tea Party movement ever had to do with terrorism policy, Ronald Reagan, or Iran?  Sullivan:

There is no question in my mind that Palin is the leader of the opposition in this country. And there is no question in my mind that she is the leader of the Tea Party movement. Listening to her completely content-free rehash of every Fox News truism, underlined with the classic claim that Obama is on the side of the terrorists and is incapable of being commander-in-chief. Cheneyism is behind her.

I’m hoping against hope that none of that is true.  The Tea Party did not materialize as the opposition to the Democratic leadership in this country.  If that were the case, it would not be a movement at all—it would simply be another anti-Democratic-proposals talking point for the Republicans.  And that would be the death of the movement.  The fact that an alleged “Tea Party” Convention chose a keynote speaker who delivered a partisan Republican speech (yeah, I know there was another convention, and I know they didn’t know what she was going to say) shows that those Partiers in particular are no longer interested in the movement’s core principles.  That’s how movements die.

Unlike Kleinheider, I think it’s too early to stick the fork in the Tea Party.  As we knew beforehand, and as was evidenced by the presence of more than one convention, the movement is very disorganized and highly divided.  Its members may choose to reject Palin’s faux Tea Party and continue to triumph the principles of limited and good government that caused its formation in the first place.  Here’s hoping that’s what happens.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 8, 2010 5:40 PM

    Viva Las Vegas! Next TEA meeting should be in the entertainment capital of the world with Mr Wynn who speaks to growing our economy and adding jobs. Sarah had fun and revenge on her Democratic opponent VP Joe Biden, by tweaking him on his stewardship to monitor expenditures of TARP and stimulus funds. Her point is well taken since Joe has been Missing in Action on explaining why he lets billions fly out the door with no monitoring by the VP.

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