On Friday, we mentioned Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) bold refusal to cancel the Senate run he hasn’t announced yet just because Karl Rove wants to stop him. Obviously, no stopping will be done by Rove personally. Unless a cupcake is rolling into the storm drain, Rove prefers to work through organizations. His newest, the Conservative Victory Project, is a joint venture with the American Crossroads Super PAC designed to ensure that more electable candidates win Republican Senate primaries. To hear Charles Blow tell it, it’s also an anti Tea Party.
Last night’s Republican debate was the ninth of 53 such events between now and November 2012, so maybe it didn’t seem totally important to watch it. You can probably close your eyes and see Herman Cain railing against the reading comprehension level of US policy right now. Much like the individual Republican candidates, the Republican debates have a sameness that prevents each of them from seeming strictly necessary. Any one is like the cracker that falls out of the box of Triscuits. It’s therefore understandable if you missed last night’s debate, but it’s also a shame, because it turned out to be the Triscuit with a vague image of Jesus on it. The CNN Tea Party Express Republican Debate tells you everything you need to know about the Tea/Republican Party in three easy juxtapositions. Or one juxtaposition of three elements, which also yields three juxtapositions. Let’s just let the math/usage wash over us and watch videos.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the Tea Party is its members’ claims about who they are. Tea Party groups continue to identify as grassroots, non-partisan coalitions of citizens from every walk of life, when we all know that they’re white racist Republicans or, sometimes, white racist libertarians. By “know,” here, I mean “assume in a way that makes us feel guilty about our own closemindedness.” There is no quantitative proof that Tea Partiers are more bigoted, GOP-affiliated and prone to sunburn than the average American, after all. For that you’d need some kind of comprehensive, long-term survey, and such a thing would be too good to—oh, you shouldn’t have, David Campbell and Robert Putnam of Notre Dame. And just in time for my birthday, too.
One of the best/worst parts of being a member of Tea Party Nation are the daily* emails from founder Judson Phillips. Phillips is not a craftsmanlike writer, but he’s passionate. He’s not afraid to invoke Karl Marx, make broad statements about Muslims, or point out who and sometimes what hates America. But as a just-folks kind of guy, Phillips also lards his statements with the homey, personal touches of an Andy Rooney. Consider his reflection from last Sunday, which begins with this glimpse into his daily life: “When I was in Washington this past Friday, I walked by the United Methodist Building, next to the Russell Office Building. The sign in front of the United Methodist Building said, ‘Pass the DREAM Act.'” Three hundred words later, he arrives at this conclusion: “For the few remaining patriots in the Methodist church, know what that church supports and then you should abandon the church, much like the Methodist church as abandoned American values and patriotism.” Where he goes in between is pretty exciting, too.
Now that Election Fever has passed, and we are left with only Election Post-Fever Palsy, it’s time to take stock of what we’ll miss. I personally miss the last campaign cycle in roughly the same way King Kong misses vaudeville, but it did have its highlights. There were the insane commercials, for example, which a slightly less hysterical electorate and some version of the DISCLOSE Act will hopefully ensure that we never see again. There was Christine O’Donnell, who is presumably doing buttershots in a Dave & Buster’s right now. Best of all, there was Tea Party Nation, whose unstoppable email apparatus sent me two, sometimes three emails a day.