Remember that prediction I made that this year would see the tea party wear out its welcome with America? Capping a week of MSM rethinking on tea party coverage, Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic asks whether conservatives have gone mad:
I want to find Republicans to take seriously, but it is hard. Not because they don’t exist — serious Republicans — but because, as Sanchez and others seem to recognize, they are marginalized, even self-marginalizing, and the base itself seems to have developed a notion that bromides are equivalent to policy-thinking, and that therapy is a substitute for thinking.
Bob Cesca responds to Ambinder by asserting that tea party activists are “afraid of no longer being a majority in America.” He’s right, of course. Referring once again to the Democracy Corps survey last October:
In our focus group discussions, we quickly noted how they routinely used plural first person pronouns to describe a group of individuals (including all those in the room but extending far beyond those walls) who share a set of beliefs, knowledge, and commitment to oppose Obama that sets them apart from the majority of the country.[…]
Conservative Republicans passionately believe that they represent a group of people who have been targeted by a popular culture and set of liberal elites – embodied in the liberal mainstream media – that mock their values and are actively working to advance the downfall of the things that matter most to them in their lives – their faith, their families, their country, and their freedom. (Emphasis mine)
Meanwhile, the internal contradictions of the tea party phenomenon are under increasing examination. For those who missed it, there was Jonathan Raban’s long and excellent insider-look at Nashville’s Tea Party Convention in the March 25th edition of New York Review of Books:
It’s one thing for pro-life evangelicals and secular libertarians to march shoulder to shoulder behind banners saying “Kill the Bill!” and “Oust the Marxist Usurper!” or displaying a portrait of Obama rouged up and kohled to look like Heath Ledger’s Joker in the Batman movie Dark Knight. It’s quite another to coop up the same people for three days in a hotel, where they must talk to each other through breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the march on D.C., there were T-shirts proclaiming “I am John Galt” and “Atlas Has Shrugged” alongside others that said “Obama Spends—Jesus Saves” or had the legend “Yes, He Did” beneath a picture of Christ on the cross. At Opryland, devout, abstemious Christians were breaking bread with followers of Ayn Rand’s gospel of unbridled and atheistic self-interest. The convention, designed to unite the Tea Party movement, was helping to expose fundamental differences of belief and mindset between people who, before Nashville, had appeared as interchangeable members of a single angry crowd. (Emphasis mine)
Now we have a POLITICO-TargetPoint survey of Tax Day protesters on the National Mall shining a light on the split between Sarah Palin fans and the Ron Paul crowd. These two charismatic cults do not care for one another; thus the “movement” is all about identity politics, yet it cannot settle on a single identity. Remember the CPAC straw poll?
It’s a recipe for fail. Combined with the ineptitude of the national Republican Party, you have potential fiasco in the making. Speaking of fiascoes: have you heard that Sarah’s reality show is a stinker?
Our source says “the whole thing [was] comical.” Apparently the ad buyers were not impressed. This Discovery insider said, “When the promo was over, people (employees and buyers) were rolling their eyes, snickering, and even laughing. People were laughing and it’s not even a comedy. No one took it seriously.”
This person was concerned that given the lack of interest from ad buyers that Discovery would have to dump the show to “a crappy time slot” to cut its losses. They added, “Bottom line everyone thought it was a new all time low for Discovery. My guess is the show is going to tank big time.”
Remember Discovery is paying Sarah Palin $250,000 an episode for this series. There are eight episodes, so she will be clearing $2 million for this possible disaster (TLC will be spending between $800,000 to $1.2 million per episode for the whole production). The ratings for her new show on Fox News Channel were already low (she couldn’t even hold on to Greta Van Susteren’s audience). Imagine how much worse she’ll do on TLC where the audience presumably wants to learn something, i.e. the exact opposite of what Sarah Palin is known for.
While I expect local tea parties will become the breeding grounds of right-wing activism for years, the only thing the tea party “movement” will succeed in doing is making the grifters rich.