By 2010, the obvious partisan nature of the movement became impossible to ignore as the Tea Party focused entirely on Republican primaries. In April of that year, Rupert Murdoch and former Nixon aide Roger Ailes — the men who run Fox News — recognized they’d crossed the line into direct campaigning. The network publicly pulled Sean Hannity out of a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati, where he was set to broadcast his show.
The channel’s actual “course correction” was more than a year away, but by then even the GOP’s own Pravda realized that actual political organizing was beyond the pale — even for them.
Fox News’ Glenn Beck would go on to organize a massive rally featuring the Republican Party’s last nominee for vice president as the star. More and more the economic focus of the early rallies was replaced by the extreme social agenda of the GOP platform. And when Republicans won the House in 2010, the Tea Party freshmen were the talk of the town.
Quickly these new lawmakers wore out any credibility left in the brand by nearly defaulting on the full faith and credit of the United States and focusing on passing bills that deregulated polluters and regulated uteri.
By August of 2012, only 25 percent of Americans supported the Tea Party and 28 percent opposed it.
During the GOP presidential primary, the people still calling themselves Tea Partiers tried to stop Mitt Romney from being nominated. He easily won the nomination.
Now right-wingers still insist on calling their base — the movement’s conservatives — the Tea Party. But if you watched the Republican National Convention, the only words mentioned fewer times than “Bush” or “bin Laden” were “Tea Party.” They were not mentioned once.
Those who want to keep the Tea Party myth going want credit for becoming the most loyal supporters of Mitt Romney.
Transom’s Benjamin Domenech wrote on Tuesday, “The Tea Party movement — once again proving its pragmatism once the general election season rolls around — lined up in the immediate aftermath of the Paul Ryan pick and has proven they can grow up.”
So much about this is funny. The idea that Paul Ryan, who voted for nearly every bill that created the deficit from the wars to TARP, is a Tea Partier shows how the brand has been diluted by becoming synonymous with “Republican.” But the notion that the Tea Party deserves credit for supporting Romney — the first man on Earth ever to sign an individual mandate into law — reveals the one true organizing idea for right-wingers behind the last four years: hating Obama.
Domenech goes on to give credit to Michelle Malkin for not attacking Romney for backing down on his hardline immigration stance.
Malkin is the Tea Party? A columnist and Fox News contributor who speaks and sells her books at AFP events all across the country? This is someone who represents the base of the party? Is the Tea Party any Republican who isn’t on the Wall Street Journal editorial board?
The truth is if Fox News started a Mickey Mouse Club, it would have been the Tea Party. Malkin would be Annette. So relatable to the audience, yet so well paid for her efforts. The idea that Michelle Malkin — an employee of the company doing 24/7 infomercials for the Republican Party — would turn against the GOP nominee for president weeks before the election is ridiculous.
Think about it. Since Fox stopped actively promoting the Tea Party, how often do you hear about it? Only when a maniac like Joe Walsh, who grabbed on to the brand to win his seat, embarrasses himself.
Republicans simply cast the whole ruse aside when it didn’t work for them anymore. And those poor folks running around in the tri-corner hats are reenacting history in more ways than they can ever imagine.
Photo credit: John Beagle
Copyright 2012 The National Memo