Opinion

Palin or merely pain?

Andrew Ian Dodge Contributor

Sarah Palin has found a new role for herself outside of Fox News and being an author. She seems keen to take on the role of  “leader of the tea party movement”. Just as Beck sees himself as the de facto leader of the tea party movement, hold his own gathering in DC in August separate to the one being organised by the well-established tea party groups, Palin is staking her claim. This is despite the fact the actual movement has made it quite clear they don’t want a leader.

She is speaking on the (in) famous Tea Party Express tour, this their third one, despite their being exposed as a GOP front and a jolly for GOP lobbyists. She has spent the first weekend in February speaking at the Tea Party Nation “convention.” This was supposed to be a gathering of tea party grassroots that has been criticised and avoided by every actual Tea Party grouping in the country.

The withdrawal of Michele Bachman, other politicians and some major sponsors has not moved Palin to reconsider her role in the event. Why would she buck the grassroots of whom she is supposedly so beloved who, at least up until recently, adored her?

Erick Erickson of Redstate made the bluntest statement about Tea Party Nation. “…I think this national tea party convention smells scammy.” It might have something to do with Judson Philips and his methods.

Things got so bad for the Tea Party Nation, with the exception of Palin, that they released a rambling defence of their efforts a few days before the event.

Its very simple, Palin is tasked with leading the GOP-attached tea party movement, attempting to bring the rabble back into the GOP fold. As with every election cycle the patronising GOP leadership has decided conservatives have had “enough fun” and its time for them to sit down, shut up and vote as they are told.

Chairman Steele and his people are making desperate attempts to get the tea party movement on board. I have heard of invitations flying out to any and all the “leaders” to get them to do a meet and greet soon. Steele’s mind has been focused by the upcoming CPAC conference in Washington, D.C., which features thousands of conservative activists gathering to discuss their future.

The GOP and Steele seem to be completely ignoring the concerted effort of the tea party movement to bring together frustrated Republicans, conservatives, independents, Democrats, libertarians and whomever else is fed up with government bloat. He is keen to cleave off the Republicans and get them to fall into line behind whomever the Republicans manage to put up this time around.

GOP and Steele are continuing to tell all those who will listen that they “share the values” of the tea party movement. It remains unclear whether or not they actually understand what those values are. We hear very little about smaller government, free market and lower taxes from the GOP, they are merely concerned with getting back their power. The GOP seems to forget that they bear as much responsibility for the frustration as the Democrats whether it be bailouts or the rising national debt.

Steele is relying on Palin and her “popularity” to pull the tea party movement members back into the fold and keep them “on message” for the elections later this year. Palin is to deliver conservatives so they can be mistreated and dumped the day after the election. She has said in the last few days she believes the GOP should absorb the tea party movement. Instead of changing to reflect the core values of the tea party movement, the movement is expected to compromise.

Conservatives have been burned by this maneuver before. Remember Newt Gingrich convinced conservatives with the Contract with America only to reward their faith in him and his project by letting the contract fall apart with in a matter of months.

Palin, if she has any future plans for running for office is in danger of hurting her reputation with the grassroots and the conservative base. Interestingly CNN has just released a poll that show the tea party movement viewed more positively than Palin. There is no doubt Palin has a coterie of fans, but that does not mean the entire Tea Party movement is enamoured with her. I am hearing that many are getting fed up with her recent actions and are reconsidering their support .

This cartoon rather sums up the feeling of many about Palin’s appearance at the Tea Party Nation event. The fallout from the event continues even after it has ended.

Those wishing to understand the players in the movement might like this simple scorecard to keep track. With the growing influence more and more groups are attempting to jump in and grab part of the action. TPN is just one of the many efforts to tap into the great pool of Americans that is the movement.

One has to wonder how Palin has been convinced to put the short-term interests of her party over those of her own career. Her advisors may in fact be setting her up to be a sacrificial lamb for the cause of the Republican Party. It remains to be seen if those turned off by her recent behaviour will come back to her cause when she needs them. The tea party movement has worked too hard and long to be delivered back into the gaping maw of an unappreciative Republican Party.

Andrew Ian Dodge is a 40-something writer, consultant and musician. He blogs at http://www.andrewiandodge.com/