AND ALREADY IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL WHICH WAS WHICH
The top link at Fox Nation right now leads you here, where there's a Fox News blog post on the Nashville tea party shindig --and this post doesn't even bother to hide the ultimate agenda:
... The National Tea Party Convention - hosted by Tea Party Nation - has begun to lay the foundation for a merging of Tea Party activists with the Republican Party. Despite attempts by Democrats and certain media outlets to drive a wedge between the Tea Parties and the GOP, it's becoming clear that the Tea Parties will grow WITHIN the Republican Party and not splinter off and form a 3rd party....
There you go. Can Fox make it any plainer? So, are you still waiting for that independent streak to manifest itself in the movement, the one that really really might be sympathetic to liberal critiques of entrenched interests? If so, I have a bridge to sell you.
Yes, I know: a lot of people in the movement despise the crowd that's running this convention. Well, guess what? Rupert Murdoch is bigger than all of those people. His ideological spokesmodel, Sarah Palin, is bigger than all of those people. The GOP is bigger than all of those people. They're taking the brand and all the goodwill it's built up in hearland America and they're siphoning all of it off for themselves. And most of the people who are sympathetic to tea party ideas won't even notice.
And while I'm saying this, let me also recommend a story Politico ran on Wednesday: "Tea Leaves: Republican Establishment Still Rules."
The widely anticipated civil war within the Republican Party is off to a decidedly dull start.
Defying predictions from last year, early evidence suggests that party leaders and even most grass-roots activists are more interested in winning elections than in ideological bloodletting.
...Former Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who has regularly urged his party to be more open to moderates, said Republicans like McDonnell and Brown have smartly tapped into populist outrage by "seeing it as an opportunity."
"Wide-awake leaders don't need to be threatened by the tea parties," Davis said, adding: "It's easier to include coalitions when you don’t have to govern." ...
Right -- Republicans will just accept the mantle, use the energy, and do whatever they want once they're in office. And really, why not? As far as I can tell, mainstream GOP thought differs from tea party thought only on pork and deficits -- and as soon as the GOP has the majority, teabaggers will get tax cuts and decide pork and deficits don't matter. (A recent Rasmussen poll suggests that most GOP voters would ignore deficits if there were tax cuts.) So the merger is all but complete.
UPDATE, SATURDAY: The main Fox News story about this new Republican/Tea Party organization is subtler than the Fox blog post quoted above -- it says:
... According to a written statement, the group would work to build a "sustainable coalition of elected officials" on the national level and in state and local races that might not be getting the attention of the Republican Party establishment....
That's not the same as a "merging of Tea Party activists with the Republican Party," but I don't see why both can't be true simultaneously.
OH, AND: There's this from Kate Zernike of The New York Times:
In sessions here, organizers ... outlined plans to take over the Republican Party from the ground up by having Tea Party conservatives fill local Republican committee slots with the power to decide which candidates to endorse and finance.
Which I'm sure will be met with no resistance whatsoever, just as the takeover of local precincts by the religious right a generation ago was met with no resistance, because moderate Republicans are the second-wussiest group of politicos in America, after Democrats -- they never get their backs up and put up a serious fight when anyone challenges them either.
AND: There's this from The Wall Street Journal:
A leading organizer of the National Tea Party Convention here announced the launch of the Memphis-based Ensuring Liberty Corporation, a political outfit that will include a political action committee to help fund candidates supported by Tea Party activists.
Mark Scoda, a 55-year-old Memphis businessman and local Tea Party leader, said today he will lead the new effort along with a board of directors that he said he will name next week....
Scoda said the effort is meant to run in conjunction with the Republican Party. "We absolutely do not believe in a third party," he said....