Political Animal


April 26, 2013 12:14 PM It’s Official! The Tea Party Is Back!

By Ed Kilgore

Say what you will about Politico, but aside from the many bits of useful phenomenological data its vast minions gather each day, it serves as a sort of public utility in instantly and thoroughly expressing the shifting perspectives of the MSM. Today, having misinterpreted and buried the Tea Party Movement a thousand times, Politico (in this piece by Tarini Parti) now takes judicial notice of its return on Capitol Hill:

The Tea Party Caucus is back in action with a new strategy and a growing membership.
Roughly 20 House Republicans attended a closed-door meeting Thursday evening in the Rayburn House Office Building, along with staffers from nearly 40 congressional offices, including those of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.
It comes as conservatives continue to flex their muscle, making life difficult for GOP leaders in the House on issues like Obamacare, and as the debate on immigration legislation heats up.
Conservative mainstays such as Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) were among those at the meeting. A source said the entire GOP House delegation from South Carolina was there as well.
Mike Shields, chief of staff to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, spoke at the meeting - an indication that the GOP establishment is making an effort to work with the tea party lawmakers.
Also in attendance: Conservative radio talk show host Rusty Humphries and representatives from organizations including the Tea Party Express and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. TheTeaParty.net organized the meeting, which was closed to press.

The possibility that high attendance at the caucus meeting might reflect a continuing presence rather than a sudden resurgence was indirectly addressed by this quote from Louie Gohmert:

“I thought it was the energy we had when we first started things,” Gohmert told POLITICO after the meeting. “The Tea Party beliefs and movement never really went away. It was just that the caucus wasn’t really having meetings.”

True dat. You could make the case, in fact, that the relative quiescence of the Tea Party Caucus was attributable to its consolidation of power within the Republican “Establishment.” Now that strategic disagreements within the congressional GOP are re-emerging, it’s time to get loud and proud again. But the whole phenomenon shows how shallow all the talk about the GOP “rebranding” and “adjusting to new circumstances” really was—much less the fatuous chatter about “bipartisan breezes wafting through Congress.”

It’s entirely possible, not soon but in the foreseeable future, that the Republican Party and even the conservative movement can genuinely move beyond the “Spirit of 2010” and begin to act like a political party rather than a wrecking crew. But anyone who has paid genuine attention to the Tea Party Movement must understand that these are people who violently oppose the idea of “moving on” or “adjusting to circumstances.” The whole point of “constitutional conservatism” is the belief in an eternal, perhaps even divinely ordained, governing model that never, ever, goes out of season. Maybe they’ll lose influence in the GOP and the country as a whole, but they aren’t going away or changing. Their periodic rediscovery by the MSM when once again fantasies of a “pragmatic” GOP prove illusory is one of the maddening but abiding aspects of contemporary political journalism.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T2 on April 26, 2013 12:23 PM:

    what does "roughly 20" mean? Hell, can't these Politco guys count to twenty? I mean, sure if there were 80-90 people at the meeting I can see "roughly 85".
    Anyway, looking at the names given, this meeting would have, roughly 30 years ago, taken place in an asylum and been quickly broken up by Nurse Ratchett. God help us all.

  • Renai on April 26, 2013 12:23 PM:

    This winter, the huge lake out front heaved and developed a miles long stress fracture in the ice, effectively separating two thirds of the lake from the one third stil anchored to the stable shoreline. I nicknamed it The Big Crack...much like the Republican Party.

  • Neil B on April 26, 2013 12:25 PM:

    Maybe some of the attendees were only half committed, T2?

  • c u n d gulag on April 26, 2013 12:31 PM:

    Where's that armed drone, hitting American citizens in America, when you want it?

    One strike, and we might return to some sense of normalcy.

    And Obama can issue a, "WHOOOOPS!!! That drone's EXCEL forumula must have been configured by Reinhart and Rogoff!
    Now, about the deficit and Austerity..."

  • Peter C on April 26, 2013 1:10 PM:

    It is ridiculous to speak of the ‘Tea Party’ as separate from the Republican Party. If they were distinct, they wouldn’t get all their financial support from the Republican establishment.

    The tea party is just a hat that Republicans wear to make people think that someone else is speaking.

    They put this hat on when they want to speak to a different audience or just when they want their message to get twice the air time. The media pretend they are different, but they are owned as well.

  • Curmudgeon on April 26, 2013 1:49 PM:

    "The whole point of “constitutional conservatism” is the belief in an eternal, perhaps even divinely ordained, governing model that never, ever, goes out of season." - Ed Kilgore

    You hit it on the nail with this, Ed. Scratch a Teabagger and you'll find a Dominionist, i.e. a religious fanatic who believes they are on a mission from God to transform our current democracy into a theocratic form of government to rule the nation according to their own extremist interpretation of the Bible.

    Of course some of them are just cynical pols who would say anything to gain power but either way, in this mindset, no compromise is possible no matter how many people suffer for it. And until the nation comes to its senses and votes more rational people into office things will continue on their present destructive course.

    Here's a quote from Wikipedia as a nugget for those who want to research the subject in more depth:

    "Dominion Theology is a grouping of theological systems[1] with the common belief that the law of God, as codified in the Bible, should exclusively govern society, to the exclusion of secular law, a view also known as theonomy. The most prominent modern formulation of Dominion Theology is Christian Reconstructionism, founded by R. J. Rushdoony in the 1970s. Reconstructionists themselves use the word dominionism to refer to their belief that Christians alone should control civil government, conducting it according to Biblical law.[2][3]"

  • MuddyLee on April 26, 2013 2:15 PM:

    One sentence tells you how stupid this meeting was:

    "...the entire GOP House delegation from South Carolina was there..."

    Please folks: give money to the Elizabeth Colbert Busch campaign against Mark "Argentina Trail" Sanford.

  • g on April 26, 2013 4:57 PM:

    The sheer concentration of wingnut idiocy must have threatened the structural integrity of the building.

  • rrk1 on April 26, 2013 5:02 PM:

    Psychologists have already demonstrated that the mindset of the Tea Baggers is hard wired in their brains. Thus expecting any change of heart on their part is a fantasy. Expecting the electorate to boot these lunies out of office isn't much better when congressional districts are gerrymandered in their favor. Besides they do the bidding of the corporatocrazy, which since 'Citizens' United' has bought the election process legally.

    Only massive turnouts at the polls can overwhelm our degraded politics, and why would people want to vote when they see that a dedicated, fanatical, hateful, minority runs the country regardless of what happens at the ballot box.

    Almost makes me want to buy a gun. Oh, I forgot, the Tea Baggers already bought them all.