Time and again the Associated Press and a number of other "mainstream media" sources give marquee attention to the TEA party and those who jump up and claim to be the "TEA party candidate". Sometimes it helps them get elected, other times it just helps them get a guest host spot on the Today Show.
But as time goes by and the press continues to report virtually every wiggle of TEA party toes, my cynicism about the motivations of the press kick in.
Yes, I have been a big fan of the conservative values of the TEA party. I have joined the chorus of voices against TARP and others similar programs, I have called for cutting federal spending, and in fact I did a video series on the dangers of the Federal Reserve when it wasn't really on anybody's radar screen other than Jim Bunning and Ron Paul.
I've represented the TEA party and defended its First Amendment rights and fully believe that it began as a movement of strong fiscal conservatives which fit well with my personal philosophy within the republican party.
But lately the TEA party has been getting news for some other things. For example, it was big news when Rand Paul and Mike Lee were the only two "TEA party caucus" senators to join with 21 Senate democrats calling for a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan. I get it, we need to pull out because we have no mission there which is supported by the American people, nor can we afford to be there. But I wonder if the agenda of the democrats is founded in such intellectual purity?
In 2010 the TEA party tended to be mostly older, angry republicans and was built around opposition to runaway government spending. But now in 2012 it seems as if the TEA party is being used by democrats to help keep Obama in the White House.
The tea party movement, now nearly three years old, has fallen out of favor with Americans. And Democrats are prepared to use it against Republicans in the 2012 election.
A recent Fox News poll showed just 30 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the tea party, compared to 51 percent who viewed it unfavorably.
A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll may be more illustrative, though. It showed Americans were more evenly split on the tea party, with 44 percent supporting it and 43 percent opposing it. But just 15 percent of Americans supported the tea party “strongly,” while many more – 26 percent – were “strongly” opposed to it.
That suggests opposition to the tea party is more strident than the tea party itself, which means the movement may be doing the GOP more harm than good.
In addition, the fervor and enthusiasm spurred by the tea party in 2010 appears to have dissipated, with no major tea party rallies taking place this year and fewer Republican candidates latching on to the label. On the presidential campaign trail, the tea party is rarely mentioned.
In contrast, Democrats are actually starting to wield the tea party label as a tool in their campaigns.
Democrats say the issue works for them as they continue to define a Republican Party whose brand is already struggling.
“It’s no longer viewed as a populist, grassroots organization, but a dangerous group with extremist views that don’t reflect the mainstream values of America’s middle class,” said Democratic media strategist John Lapp. “The Republican establishment allowed the inmates to run the asylum in 2010. And now they’re paying the price electorally.” [Washington Post]
If the above observations are true, then maybe that is why the mainstream press is so willing to push any story about the TEA party or its candidates which comes down the pike. Afterall, how anxious do you think the MSM is to help defeat Obama?
Add to the mix the number of people who have hitched their wagons to the TEA party movement who come from the Ron Paul camp and you begin to discern an odd alliance which could also add some bits of evidence to the picture of what is going on when the press gives the new TEA party attention.
Some liberals are so enamored with Paul’s foreign policy—namely, his opposition to practically any form of overseas military engagement—that they are willing to overlook all of Paul’s other heresies (not to mention lunacies). In certain parts of the left-wing imagination, America’s aggressive imperial overreach is so acute that it must be stopped at all costs. Left-wing blogger Philip Weiss has even suggested that liberals think of supporting Paul as an ugly, but necessary, progressive compromise, likening it to nothing less than “seculars joining with the Muslim Brothers to get rid of Mubarak. You needed a broad coalition to push Hosni out.” [New Republic]
There are still certainly many very good reasons to call for an immediate curtailment of deficit spending, to demand that Congress pass and operate only under a balanced budget and for there to be an immediate audit of the Federal Reserve Bank. But many of these original concerns of the conservative republicans who rushed to the TEA party a couple of years ago formed a wake up call for republicans which has been heard.
Now it seems the TEA party movement is being ballyhooed by the press not because it is a curiosity on the American political landscape, but because it can be used as a divisive force within the republican party, providing by way of press attention more steam to the movement than it is producing on its own, thus weakening the GOP, helping elect liberal democrats in the process and training those TEA party novices who become addicted to the limelight what liberal ideologies they need to espouse if they want to keep getting attention.
There is also an important lesson from history that shouldn't be forgotten. When the MSM starts helping, the left has picked its man.