Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Michael Shear of The New York Times finds it puzzling that Washington knew in the midst of the 2012 campaign that the IRS was said to be targeting tea party groups, but it never became an election issue:
The allegations had all the makings of a perfect election-year scandal that might threaten President Obama's chances for a second term and re-energize a listless Tea Party movement: an activist president, running an overbearing government, treating conservative groups unfairly by wielding the federal taxing power to undermine his adversaries.

But a year ago, when the current Internal Revenue Service scandal that has swirled around Mr. Obama first emerged, Washington ... shrugged.....

Reporters wrote a handful of articles about the Tea Party allegations. A Louisiana Republican, Representative Charles Boustany Jr., held his hearing in Room 1100 of the Longworth Building. None of the Republican candidates for president seized on the allegations as big news....

The Republican colleagues of Mr. Boustany did not seem particularly exercised about the potential for abuse either. There were no news conferences or major speeches on the House or Senate floors....

To others in the city's political establishment, the Tea Party's complaints seemed like conspiracy theories from the fringe....
I talked about this a couple of weeks ago: Republicans (and the right-wing noise machine, led by Fox News) promoted the tea party in 2009 and 2010, in part to derail the Obama agenda, and in part with the idea that what you want to do going into midterm elections is fire up your base (because midterms tend to be low-turnout, and the party that motivates its base wins). That's also when Fox put the teabaggy, half-mad Glenn Beck on the air (his Fox show started the week of Obama's inauguration).

But when Republicans were going into 2012, they were hoping they could appeal to swing voters. Fox was conflicted -- Roger Ailes couldn't resist promoting the likes of Herman Cain and Donald Trump, but Beck was let go, and Gabriel Sherman was reporting in New York magazine that Ailes was looking to tone things down (somewhat) in order to elect a conservative but swing-voter-friendly president, because presidential elections have higher turnouts and are thus decided by swing voters, not base voters.

Well, now we're approaching another set of midterms, so once again it's time to get the base fired up. We can talk about the tea party again.

But I think the GOP and the noise machine have developed a wariness about the tea party. Note that the teabaggers haven't exactly been unleashed -- recall, back in 2009, that they were being aided and funded by deep-pocketed right-wing groups, and Fox was co-branding with the tea party. That's not happening now. The right wants the teabaggers as victims, not as high-profile activists.

Michelle Malkin spent a good part of yesterday on Twitter retransmitting photos of sparsely attended tea party protests against the IRS.

If the right really wanted to revive the tea party, resources would be pumped in and these protests would be much, much larger. But that moment has passed. The tea party is useful at this level, but potentially embarrassing to the GOP if it becomes more prominent.


Victor said...

I'm not sure that at this point, it's embarrassment that's worrying the Republican Party.

They're trying to get that Tea Party genii back in the bottle.

Because, while it did halt the Democrat's larger agenda, after 2010, it also opened up huge cans of worms, and cost them some winnable senate seat - even as they gained House seats.
And the general public began to see these candidates as more than just a tad loony.

This is what happens when you invite the even further American Fascist, John Birchers, screaming about freedom and liberty - when they really understand neither - and invite them to the political table.

Even Goldwater, Ronnie, and both Bush's, were careful to keep them at arms length.
Because people who think Ike was a Commie, and so was every President after him, were little too extreme, not just to the general public, but even to the main-stream Republicans - even as that party was moving ever more extremely to the right.

And now they're trying to, if not jam that genii back into the throat of the bottle they rubbed to release it them, at least marginalize the Tea Partiers before they start getting ideas of forming their own 3rd Party, and REALLY do some damage in, not only national elections, but even some local, district, and intra-state ones, like Governorships, and state legislatures, by sucking votes from the Republican candidates, and thus allowing Democrats to win those elections.

So, my feeling is that these reactions are not from any embarrassment, but from a sense of self-preservation.

Ten Bears said...

I am sure that the biggest worry those that pull these yo-yo's strings have is the rubes waking up to the realization that the mythical Tea Party and Occupy want the same things.

No fear.

Victor said...

Ten Bears,
That's where "Divide-and-conquer" always comes in handy.

As you know, race/ethnicity, religion, country-of-origin (you don't need to worry about that, we're ALL illegal immigrants to you Native American), are all useful - and so are age, and class.

That's why the Republicans kept painting the Occupy folks, as young and well-educated elite's, who'll soon join the companies they're protesting.

ANYTHING, to keep the rubes so fired-up, that they don't see that the ones who are the real victims of the Conservatives decades-long Class War, is themselves.