REPUBLICANS HAVE DONE MORE HARM TO THE TEA PARTY LATELY THAN THE IRS HAS
What's ironic about the GOP's latest scandalmongering effort -- raising a ruckus about IRS scrutiny of tea party groups' tax-exempt status -- is that the GOP is using this scandal to help nullify Barack Obama's reelection, while not turning to the tea party movement itself to do the nullification work, as the party did four years ago.
The GOP in 2013 has the same goals it had in 2009 -- to deny Obama the opportunity to govern and fire up the base in the two years leading up to midterms -- but the party has decided that it's going to accomplish this goal using insiders only; it's long since stopped encouraging teabaggers to take to the streets. The party and its insider allies are going to pursue a "This is worse than Watergate!" Beltway strategy instead. Hence this scandal, and hence Benghazi. The focus will be congressional hearings, not town meetings. No heartlanders in tricorner hats need apply.
In 2009, the GOP felt it needed the fig leaf of a seemingly independent, grassroots movement to block Obama initiatives and gin up outrage in advance of midterm elections -- presumably because Obama was just taking office and nothing had happened on his watch that could be ginned up into a scandal suitable for hearings and impeachment threats. So GOP-friendly groups financed and promoted the tea party movement. But once the 2010 midterms were over, the movement had outlived its usefulness. Going into 2012, the GOP wanted to motivate swing voters, not just the base (a task it still hasn't quite figured out how to accomplish). The GOP and its media wing (Fox News, talk radio, blogs) sidelined the tea party, with predictable results: turnout at recent tea party rallies has been embarrassingly low.
Now might seem to be the time to bring the teabaggers back. But now President Obama has been in office for four years, so there's a record to pick apart. As a result, the GOP has decided that this year's teabaggers are going to be members of Congress.
If Hillary Clinton or some other Democrat is elected in 2016, maybe the GOP will bring the teabaggers out of mothballs -- the new president won't have done anything potentially impeachable yet, so heartlanders angry about the new White House agenda might be needed to nullify the 2016 election results. But for now, the tea party movement is sidelined by the GOP even as the GOP identifies it as a victim.