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Monday, February 08, 2010

A People's Movement that Never Was

PalinStick a fork in it, it's done. Over. Toast. Influential Nashville blogger Adam Kleinheider declared the tea party movement dead this weekend, hijacked by corporate interests, money-hungry opportunists, and Sarah Palin.

The tea party movement is dead. The one I was familiar with anyway. Judson Phillips held it down and Sarah Palin drove a stake right through its heart live last night on C-Span in front of an unsuspecting audience.

Sarah Palin didn’t give a tea party speech last night. She gave a partisan Republican address. It was a purely political speech designed to position her for a presidential run in 2012 or 2016. Period. She wasn’t there to celebrate the organic nature of a movement she had nothing to do with creating. She was there to co-opt the name and claim the brand as hers. And she did.

Who's Judson Phillips? He's a guy from Tennessee who's -- brace yourself -- a trial lawyer! This makes him evil incarnate. He's also a force behind the National Tea Party Convention that was held this week. Seems that some people saw charging $350 and up to attend a "grassroots" convention struck some as profiteering. Before the convention was even held, it was already generating controversy among the teabagger believers.

Several teabagger organizations pulled out of the convention. Teabaggers set up a "guerilla press conference" in the hotel to protest the event "as inconsistent with the grassroots origins of the tea party movement." The misspelled signs equating President Obama with Hitler and Stalin were banned. Sarah Palin did her own cashing in, collecting more that one-hundred grand to give her standard "Boy howdy, does that Obama fella ever suck!" speech. She says she'll give the money back to "the cause," but you've got to wonder what cause? You'd be excused from guessing that "the cause" is her political action committee, which has basically been serving as a money-laundering operation to buy her own book.

Oh woe! The tea party movement has been taken over from the outraged masses! Gone is all that grassroots power, replaced by corporate interests and greedy users.

Mourn the death of that which never existed...

See, the tea party movement was an offshoot of the "town hall mobs" of last August. Those were astroturf, organized by Republican operatives and Washington lobbying groups.

This evolved into a more structured "tea party movement," which is astroturf organized by Republican operatives and Washington lobbying groups.

Paul Krugman, New York Times [the "Brooks Brothers riot" link is mine]:

[I]t turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.

But that’s nothing new, and AstroTurf has worked well for Republicans in the past. The most notable example was the “spontaneous” riot back in 2000 — actually orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists — that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.

So, it isn't so much a case of a people's movement being taken over by special interests, as it is a special interests movement that people are starting to wake up to. Or sort of wake up to, anyway -- they still believe it was once a people's movement.

And let's face it, these people are slow learners. Some -- if not most -- will never wake up. After all, they're convinced that they need to save America from such scourges as affordable healthcare, an economy improving without accompanying inflation, and becoming world leaders in green energy markets. Let me repeat; these people have been trained by corporate interests to think these are problems -- i.e., they are chumps, gullible asses, or pigeons. Take your pick.

The tea party movement isn't dead and it hasn't changed. It is was it always was, a corporate PR stunt involving a whole bunch of talk radio-addled stooges. It's as organic and natural as a Potemkin village, complete with Potemkin villagers. The people being manipulated are well-intentioned, for the most part, but are victims of a con job. And, if there's one thing a con man counts on, it's that the mark will resist the realization that they've been conned.

So, instead of teabaggers realizing that this has been a corporate advertising campaign all along, they think it's being "taken over" by corporate interests. In the end, I don't think it matters much how realistic their own take on their history is. What matters is that they realize that the people leading them aren't really all that concerned with them.


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OM said...

Well, now that the teabaggers are no more, Obama can finally raise our taxes, redistribute our wealth, and pal around with terrorists! Must have been hard to hide his REAL birth certificate for a year.

Anonymous said...

I for one, am glad this group of racist, whiners are hopefully finally gone. Where were they when Bush spent 2 trillion on a war he said would cost thousands of times less or when HE started the TARP thing. Oh I forgot, he's white.

Typical 2nd amendment crowd of sour grapes.