Saturday, January 9, 2010
Are Rainmakers Crashing the Tea Party?
The first National Tea Party Convention seems to have scored a coup by securing Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker for next month’s confab, which organizers are billing as an opportunity to gather groups from across the country to bring their movement “to the next level.” But the convention’s lineup and eye-popping registration fee have raised questions about whether the Tea Party fringe will succeed in maintaining its popular momentum as the right-wing establishment begins to come on board. Appearing alongside Palin at the event will be Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn, members of the GOP’s far-right flank who rallied the Tea Partiers on Capitol Hill last month. They’ll be joined by established stalwarts from the religious right, including former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore—infamous for refusing to remove a display of the Ten Commandments from his courtroom—and far-right preacher Rick Scarborough, a follower of Jerry Falwell's. Given the populist appeal of the Tea Party brand, it’s no surprise that the religious right and other established factions of the GOP would try to jump aboard—and that Tea Party organizers with national aspirations would welcome them as they try to increase their political traction. But these established groups also operate according to the dictums of any Beltway political machine, using their base to raise funds and support their national operation. And such an approach has already alienated some of the true believers who are still its animating base...read more