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Tilting at Windmills

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January 26, 2010

TEABAGGERS' CONVENTION 'UNRAVELING'.... The news for the left hasn't been especially encouraging for a while, but if it's any consolation, things aren't exactly going smoothly for the Tea Party crowd, either.

Tea Party Nation's first national conference is coming right up -- it's scheduled to begin a week from Saturday -- and at this point, "its founders, former sponsors and participants are now trading accusations."

A Tea Party convention billed as the coming together of the grass-roots groups that began sprouting up around the country a year ago is unraveling as sponsors and participants pull out to protest its expense and express concerns about "profiteering."

The convention's difficulties highlight the fractiousness of the Tea Party groups, and the considerable suspicions among their members of anything that suggests the establishment.

The convention, to be held in Nashville in early February, made a splash by attracting big-name politicians. (Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech.) But some groups have criticized the cost -- $549 per ticket and a $9.95 fee, plus hotel and airfare -- as out of reach for the average tea partier. And they have balked at Ms. Palin's speaking fee, which news reports have put at $100,000, a figure that organizers will not confirm or deny.

Late Sunday, the National Precinct Alliance, which seeks a right-wing takeover of the GOP from the precinct level up, withdrew its sponsorship of the event. The announcement came on the heels of the American Liberty Alliance and American Majority, two far-right outfits, pulling their support.

Complicating matters, the event has apparently spawned a counter-event for like-minded conservatives: "[A]bout 50 local tea party leaders from across Tennessee are planning to attend a sort of counter-convention caucus set for this Saturday in Nashville, while some activists are discussing staging protests outside next month's convention, which will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center."

I still think these fissures matter, and go beyond just anger over excessive ticket prices. To reiterate a point from a couple of weeks ago, there are some pretty fundamental questions it seems the "movement" needs to address.

* What is it, exactly? Are Teabaggers a grassroots "movement," a marketing enterprise, a new activist organization, a political party, or something else altogether? Or some combination? It's unclear.

* What does it want? Do these activists intend to strengthen a wing of the Republican Party, or fight from outside the GOP structure?

* Where does it want to go? Some Tea Party folks are libertarian-minded, with an emphasis on the size of government. Others are religious-right-style activists, concerned about abortion and gays. Who's behind the wheel? Will there be two Tea Parties?

* What does it intend to offer? The Tea Party gang wants government to cut spending, but it doesn't say where. It wants policymakers to reduce the deficit, but it doesn't say how. Activists take all kinds of positions on all kinds of issues, but most of them seem misplaced and confused about basic details. Is there some kind of policy platform in the works, or will they stick to vague right-wing generalities?

These details matter. And given the divisions over the increasingly-bizarre National Tea Party Convention, the fissures may not be resolved anytime soon.

Steve Benen 10:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

The reason they don't know what they stand for or where they're going is because they're comprised of the most ignorant and unhinged members of our society. But totally not racist and quite diverse--it includes angry old fat white people from every part of the country, united by a guy holding a sign with the n-word on it.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on January 26, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

No matter what version a 'teabagger' is, what they all have in common is hate!

Hate the democrats! Hate the Muslims! Hate the socialist n*gg*r president! Hate everyone who is not a clone of themselves!

Posted by: AngryOldVet on January 26, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Does it really matter? When the Global Corporate Union (formally known as the United States of America) assumes full control, middle class concerns will be irrelevant. There will be 2 classes: The rich and the poor.

RIP USA
1776-2010

Posted by: citizen_pain on January 26, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Nice to see, they proved again that group of fanatics can't get along once their initial goal is accomplished. Let the purges begin! Or, er, continue.

Posted by: Kurt on January 26, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Too bad the anti-American scum Republican teabaggers don't have the courage to bring their guns to these meetings and just kill each other.


Posted by: John Thullen on January 26, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

The irony of it all: That this greed-driven monstrosity of a political entity---"Tea Party Nation"---shares the same initials (TPN) as "The Pocketpicking Neocon".

But, what can I say? Even a dumber-than-dirt teabagger minion can experience a cognitive epiphany once in a while. Maybe their long-lost common sense will finally kick in....

Posted by: S. Waybright on January 26, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Late Sunday, the National Precinct Alliance, which seeks a right-wing takeover of the GOP"

Bit redundant, don't you think?

Posted by: demisod on January 26, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

I'll be there. Listening to Governess Palin speak will be worth every penny. I'm also looking forward to the pre-convention tailgate party.

Posted by: Al on January 26, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Can't they all just teabag and get along?

Posted by: Saint Zak on January 26, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a question: as more people pull out, won't the event prices have to go up accordingly in order to get Palin her $100k payout?

Posted by: DH Walker on January 26, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

The sad fact is that this disorganized collection of lunatics with no coherent plan is making the Democratic Congress cower in fear.

Posted by: MarkJ on January 26, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Oui, Oui, Oui, Senores und Frauen...

Does it really matter? When the Global Corporate Union (formally known as the United States of America) assumes full control, middle class concerns will be irrelevant. There will be 2 classes: The rich and the poor.

This ain't over by any means.
That little prick that calls itself Scalia has no idea what he has created.

Imagine a corporation formed in Europe whose only reason of existence is to fund US candidates. It takes small donations from the entire EEC population and funnels it directly to America. It's business model is not to make money, but to distribute it to green (democrats) US candidates.

Such a corporation has no overhead, no bottom line to meet, no shareholders to satisfy, no exorbitant executives to fund. It exists just to financially kill republican candidates...

Posted by: koreyel on January 26, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

A Tea Party convention billed as the coming together of the grass-roots groups that began sprouting up around the country a year ago is unraveling as sponsors and participants pull out to protest its expense and express concerns about "profiteering."

So suddenly, when it comes out of their own pocket, the free markets are their enemy? Where were they when profiteer extortionistas were taking their tax dollars in Iraq, Katrina, and now Haiti?

Swear to god, I hope Lipton makes a trillion dollars off these assholes.

Posted by: chrenson on January 26, 2010 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Tea baggers protesting tea baggers, comedy gold.

Posted by: dontcallmefrancis on January 26, 2010 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's possible to assess the Tea Party movement without resorting to "ignorant" or "unhinged". They haven't found unity yet because, from the beginning, Tea Parties were mainly an expression of anger and resentment. That's cathartic... but it's not an organizing principle. And now, people are trying to work backward to define a politics of Tea Party. We'll see if that works.

But if it doesn't, I don't think progressives are off the hook. The expressions of economic resentment, of fear and concern for our economic future... these matter. And at some point, someone is going to put those pieces together. And I think one thing to face is... right now, Democrats aren't dealing with economic hardships all that well. We can do better. And if we don't... then I don't think our problem will be Tea Parties... it will be a third party, built around building on issues important to poorer, working class people.

Posted by: weboy on January 26, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

But some groups have criticized the cost -- $549 per ticket and a $9.95 fee, plus hotel and airfare -- as out of reach for the average tea partier.

And here I thought the average Teabagger was a self-made successful business owner. Coming up with a grand to go to the Teabaggers' Ball shouldn't be much of an issue for these captains of industry, should it?

Posted by: grape_crush on January 26, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Well, they all just got a major fluffing in the New Yorker.

What is up with the supposed liberal media? I guarantee that there is not a single Teabagger in all of America that reads that magazine, yet Ben McGrath even repeated their lie about having more people on the National Mall for Tea Party Day than were at the Obama inauguration.

Posted by: brewmn on January 26, 2010 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

The big uniting factor for the teabaggers isn't rational anger, it's irrational hate. There are about half a dozen targets for their hate- taxes of any kind, any type of government, foreigners and immigrants (legal or illegal), non-whites, GLBTs, non-fundie Protestants, and anything they don't understand. Each individual 'bagger has his own special hate list from the menu. If leading Dems is like herding cats, leading teabaggers would be like herding hormone-crazed bull elephants during mating season. Casualties are inevitably going to be high.

Posted by: Tim H on January 26, 2010 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

john thullen @ 10:48...

how do you know they won't?

Posted by: mellowjohn on January 26, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's possible to assess the Tea Party movement without resorting to "ignorant" or "unhinged".

Not really, no. "Angry and resentful" is by no means sufficient to describe them; but the way that the movement has coalesced around the idea that Obama represents a Muslim Nazi Socialist revolution, promoted aggressively by corporate interests like NewsCorp, really can't be described any other way. Ignorant and unhinged are as important to describing them as racism is to describing the Klan.

Posted by: DH Walker on January 26, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

what do they want? simple, a white, republican't president. he could have the exact same policies as President Obama does, except then it wouldn't be "socialism".

Posted by: merl on January 26, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

how do you know they won't?

Because they don't yet believe that Obama has been defeated. Violent purist movements only turn in on themselves once their perceived external enemy no longer serves to motivate them.

Posted by: DH Walker on January 26, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

I thought the "Tea Party" was a wholly-owned creation of Dick Armey through his stink-tank, FreedomWorks.

Why don't you email him these questions and get your answer.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on January 26, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

All Teabaggers are equal, but some teabaggers are more equal than others ;-)

Posted by: Russell Aboard M/V Sunshine on January 26, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's a pity that the rest of the world is full of sh!ts for brains because if that was not the case another country would be ready to step up where America dithers. China still scares me, although it seems conceivable that they may be forced to step onto the stage and take over.

The reason for my rent? What sort of idiots complain about support for Wall Street types and then goes ahead and pays Sarah "the Politician Next Door" Palin $100 000,00 to preach against the excesses of Wall Street types.

Your brain must be a special kind of soft to fall fall for that sort of sh!t.

Obviously my biggest concern as a non-America is that my country's economy is on a standstill just waiting for the lovely America consumer to get back on her feet again before we dump more of our useless sh!t on her. At this rate this seems unlikely in the short-medium term.

Posted by: zie on January 26, 2010 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"That little prick that calls itself Scalia has no idea what he has created..." Koreyel @ 11:09 AM.

I'm torn between "It's alive! It's alive!" and "Why aren't you running the Senate?" Either way, congrats on the post!

Posted by: Doug on January 26, 2010 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Allen Snyder:

Talk about stereotypical identification! Does the fact that I am "old fat and white" make me either your enemy or worthy of your derision? What makes them the last groups that can be demeaned without endangering your liberal pretensions?

Posted by: Pietr Hitzig on January 27, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

I came on here from a google search just to see who the teabaggers were. I have no opinion either way except for this: after reading the comments here, it seems to me that the "hate" goes both ways. It's so easy to point the finger. Those saying the teabaggers are all about hate are voicing their opinions with such venom, it seems that you are talking about yourselves.

Posted by: LuAnne on February 8, 2010 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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