Tag Archives: Tea Party Movement

Davis, #NY26, and Who’s the Real Tea Partier

20 May

For some reason – perhaps just to annoy Jane Corwin – Jack Davis’ campaign yesterday released the results of a poll showing Davis in second place and Corwin in third.  From Celeste Katz at the Daily News’ Daily Politics:

The Jack Davis campaign late last night said a poll it had commissioned showed Democrat Kathy Hochul in first place in the NY-26 race at 44%, followed by Davis at 27% and Republican Jane Corwin at 17%, with 12% of voters undecided. According to the Davis campaign’s email, which I received at 11:42 p.m., the poll “surveyed 4,602 ‘frequent’ voters most likely to cast a ballot in New York’s 26th District special election” and was conducted Wednesday and Thursday.

I asked several times who conducted the poll and, later, to see the crosstabs, but have not received an answer as I blog this.

“It’s clear that if conservatives, Republicans and Tea Party patriots want to keep Kathy Hochul, a Nancy Pelosi Democrat, from representing this district, they must vote for Jack Davis,” said Davis campaign manager Curtis Ellis in a statement accompanying the poll numbers.

(For the record, a Rochester-area poll of 650 people shows Corwin way out in front. The problem is that only 35% of those polled are registered voters. Fail.)

And I thought about it yesterday – how the tea party schism in western New York, which had its roots in the 2010 Republican primaries for state senate and congress – especially NY-27, NY-28 (the Lenny Roberto / Jill Rowland fiascos), and SD-59 (DiPietro vs. Domagalski vs. Gallivan), has blown up into a full-blown war between the people associated with the Corwin campaign (Palinists Thompson, Roberto) and people associated with the Davis campaign (Ostrowski, DiPietro).

Remember this ad from 2008?

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Well, that’s a shorthand version of the race that Kathy Hochul is running. While Corwin dodges cameras asking her questions about her staff’s poor tracking choices and Davis avoids debating while talking trade, Hochul is quietly consolidating her support in the Buffalo media market, and making sure she grows her name recognition and reputation in the Rochester media market.

I have no idea whether that Davis poll is in any way accurate, but if Saturday’s Siena poll shows Hochul widening her lead against Corwin, all hell will break loose over the next few days. The Republicans never expected that their tried and true strategy of keeping their NY-26 Congressional candidate as far away from media scrutiny as possible might backfire.

I learned yesterday that Corwin might not be as empty a vessel as I had thought, and that she has some very thoughtful positions on some relatively obscure issues, but the people running her campaign don’t let you see that, preferring instead to tightly controlled media appearances, press conferences, photo ops, and official debates.

One of the highlights of any NY-26 race is the candidates’ forum hosted at Clarence Town Hall by the League of Women Voters. The 2006 forum stands out as a particularly well-attended and raucus battle between Reynolds and Davis partisans in the audience.

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The League was unable to schedule such a forum this year because the Corwin campaign claimed never to be available on any of the proposed dates. The Hochul campaign, by contrast, told the League to schedule it, and Kathy would be there.  And I think candidates for congress – who are going to directly be representing a particular set of constituents – should make appearances at these sorts of civic fora so that these prospective constituents can get a sense of who these people are and what they stand for.

Turning back to the tea party schism, a poll commissioned by the New York Times to see who, exactly, makes up that allegedly grassroots right-wing anti-Obama movement shows this:

The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.

They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as “very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.”

And while most Republicans say they are “dissatisfied” with Washington, Tea Party supporters are more likely to classify themselves as “angry.”

That pretty much describes Jack Davis to a T. And beyond that, Davis is a self-made man who holds extreme positions on trade and immigration, and he is the true grassroots candidate (albeit moneyed), who had to petition his way onto the ballot without the support of either major party. If you’re talking about the tea party as being some sort of movement made up of people fed up with politics as usual, is that better embodied by the extremely wealthy Republican Assemblywoman who was hand-selected by the party chairs to run as a Republican in NY-26 because she was right out of WNY Republican central casting and could self-fund? Or is it better embodied by the angry, older millionaire who doesn’t care what you think of him, has given both parties the middle finger?

Corwin’s “tea party” credentials are weak. Yes, she’s garnered the support of the Palinists in town, but that’s because they’re just Republicans who want to not participate in the traditional Republican party committee structure. The non-Republican tea partiers are backing Davis. So are many inveterate movement conservatives like David Bellavia. His outspoken, unpolished outsiderishness is what makes Davis’ tea party credentials more credible. He fits the tea party demo. He ran as a Democrat, yes. But only out of cynicism and convenience, to guarantee a ballot slot and to exact his revenge over being snubbed by Dick Cheney.

Do I support Davis? Absolutely not. After his almost inexcusable 2006 implosion, and his treatment of Jon Powers in 2008, I had hoped never to hear from him again.

But as the debate in NY-26 turns on “who’s the real tea partier”, there can’t be any doubt that it’s Davis, not Corwin, who fits that bill.

Republican PAC endorses Republican

17 May

This is phenomenal. Corwin blocked WNYMedia cameras from the event she held yesterday with a national bus-centric PAC run by Republican political consultants, but that didn’t stop the approved media from asking the same damn questions we would have.

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The national “Tea Party Express” group, run by someone you never heard of who parachuted into town to hold a private and poorly attended event in an obscure Amherst shopping center, unsurprisingly endorsed the establishment Republican candidate. Among the luminaries who helped endorse Corwin were 7-time candidate Lenny Roberto, Grand Island firebrand Rus Thompson, and email enthusiast Carl Paladino.

Paladino’s presence was interesting, given that the Tea Party Express last rolled into town on a bus made of Republican PAC money, and issued this statement:

TEA PARTY EXPRESS STATEMENT CONDEMNING CARL PALADINO

“Carl Paladino is absolutely incompatible with anything the Tea Party Express stands for. Pornographic, racist e-mails – how do you think that we would ever support something like that? Clearly Paladino doesn’t understand what this movement is about if he touted himself as a Tea Party candidate. Because again, we’re a human rights movement, and it is flat out impossible for an advocate for human rights to embrace what Paladino stands for.”

So, that must mean that anyone who seeks and accepts Paladino’s support and endorsement is also “incompatible” with what the Republican PAC-BUS stands for.

Outside Corwin’s private, empty event, libertarian tea partier Jim Ostrowski (who works for the Davis campaign) confronted the woman from the Republican PAC who was desperately trying to return to her rental car and fly the Christ out of this dreary, drizzly backwater back to Washington. She told Ostrowski that Davis was as much a part of the “tea party as Barack Obama”.  Ostrowski asked her if she’s ever spoken with Davis, continuing by explaining that he was instrumental in organizing the first tea party events in Buffalo, that this woman wasn’t from Buffalo, and that she has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about.  Of course, Jim’s right.

I wonder how much Langworthy now wishes he’d not been quite so hasty in posting this edited clip to YouTube. Its benefit has been negligible, while its cost has been huge. The only people who are buying this video as evidence of an angry Davis assaulting a cameraman are Republican tools from out of town who have no influence in this race. The people who live here know it was a setup. I’m also wondering whether the people who live here in this district are taking kindly to all the outside money and influence flowing into this race.

Local Proofers Believe Osama, not Obama

6 May

Ladies and Gentlemen, WNY’s most pre-eminent birther has now morphed into a bin Laden proofer:

It is my opinion that the Navy Seals did invade a compound in Pakistan a few nights ago and did, in fact, kill someone. That someone was most likely a person recruited by the CIA 10 years or more ago, around the time of the 9-11 attacks or prior to it when they knew they were going to be needing an enemy to vilify and a living one at that. It is my belief that this double was offered a large salary, possibly to be deposited in foreign banks of his choosing, a number of women to be his “wives”, and a compound to live in in Pakistan with his only duties being that he would stay within that compound for an undetermined period of time and pretend to be Bin Laden to all those he met and when asked to do so, including the women who would become his wives and the children he would produce with them. It is also my belief that the CIA and the US political establishment knew that they might someday need a moment like this but Bin Laden #2 really had no idea what ultimate purpose he would serve.

You should read the whole thing, because there are people who (a) believe this crap; and (b) aren’t institutionalized. (Past Coniglio posts available here). Osama bin Laden wasn’t important because the FBI poster doesn’t reference 9/11, because the Bush Administration de-prioritized his capture, and because, naturally, Obama is lying.  But Osama? He was telling the truth when he said he had nothing to do with 9/11 even though he’s repeatedly admitted his involvement over the past 10 years.

Tea Party Taxes and Ersatz Paywalls

11 Apr

Dear Tea Party “Leaders”:

It’s sort of silly to complain about your taxes (especially your federal taxes) if you don’t bother to pay them. Also, relying on the expert legal advice of “crazy guy with website” is likely going to get you in trouble.

Love, BP

Dear Buffalo News:

When the Tweet linking to the story linked-to above was first sent, the entire article was present on the website. I read it. Now, it’s only an excerpt, and urges me to buy the paper. Well, the paper is off newsstands now, but the article remains excerpted. Your attempt to get me to buy the paper by withholding certain articles from the website is dumb. It’s 2011, and while the New York Times is getting pilloried for its sieve-like paywall, your clumsy ersatz paywall is stupid and serves not to make me want to rush out and buy the paper, but instead makes me either angry (idiots won’t let me read it!) or ambivalent (must not have been that important).

Love, BP

W-Tea-E-N

29 Mar

Some tea party.

Aren’t tea parties supposed to be dress-up make-believe events staged by toddler girls with their little friends and maybe some stuffed animals?  Instead, we have Rus Thompson and birther Allen Coniglio yelling past each other on the idiot concern-trolling local tea party radio station.

But this struck me from Jim Ostrowski’s insertion into the debate on his site:

I also believe that this discussion will convince many skeptics of the absolutely crucial importance of electing Jack Davis to Congress on the Tea Party line.

The only “crucial importance” of Ostrowski and DiPietro getting Jack Davis elected (they’re both on his campaign payroll right now) is that this is the first-ever political race where name recognition and money are not issues. They have a blank check to buy their way out of any and all problems and impediments that have beset tea partyish candidates in the past, and Davis is a known quantity, not some professional rabble-rouser. If Davis loses, they’re out of excuses. The only importance for these guys in getting foreigner-hating Davis elected is to establish themselves as serious political consultants.  If Davis had his way, DiPietro’s and Ostrowski’s ancestors would have stayed in fricking Italy and Poland, respectively.

It’s All About the Spending

9 Mar

Head over to DailyKos to read this story about the how Carl Paladino’s former campaign manager, Michael Caputo became a pariah in the tea party movement in New York. You’ll recall Caputo called on New York’s tea party groups to support Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget, arguing that

…if you don’t support the conservative policies of a Democratic governor, you have no credibility to criticize the liberal things he does…

Naturally, this means that the mouth-breathing wing of the tea party is accusing Caputo of being a Cuomo agent while working his ass off all spring, summer, and fall to elect Paladino. Well, probably lots of Paladino’s campaign workers and vendors were Cuomo agents, right?  Maybe that’s why a lot of them haven’t yet been paid by a campaign that ended 4 months ago.  Caputo says,

For every 50 to 100 Tea Party folks who are there for Constitutional principles, one is there simply because we elected a black President. There are wonderful, incredible people in the movement. But when we were at a Tea Party event in Broome County, a leader of that local Tea Party got close in the bar and, to me, quietly made a threat to the President.

(Re: some tea partiers’ charge that Cuomo is paying him) The charge is atrocious. But conspiracy theories are common in the Tea Party. I’m just happy to have one named after me.

Seems like a trend among the fiscally conservative, as the diner where the tea partiers held their confab asked them never to come back.  The reason?

It was the Tea Party, because they stiffed the waiters.

They left a less-than-10 percent tip and the manager went over and said, “We would appreciate it if you don’t come back.” I saw the waitresses. They were visibly upset, because they had been working like crazy, and the Tea Party folks stiffed them.

In any event, get your popcorn out and enjoy the never-ending tea party drama. Hey guys, tell me again about Obama’s birth certificate!

Clownshoes Political Consultancy, LTD.

1 Mar

If I were coming up with a roster of people under the heading, “How Not To Get Elected”, I would retain precisely the people millionaire lunatic Jack Davis has:

In another development, industrialist Jack Davis confirmed he has hired former East Aurora Mayor David J. DiPietro to help develop a strategy through which he can compete in an upcoming special election on an independent line.

Davis noted that DiPietro tried to qualify for the State Senate ballot last November and can rally tea party allies to help with the effort. He also is assembling a team that includes James Ostrowski, an attorney and tea party organizer; Gregg R. Schnitzer, a former aide to the mayor of the City of North Tonawanda; and W. Curtis Ellis, a media strategist and congressional campaign operative.

Davis unsuccessfully ran for the post in 2004, 2006 and 2008 as a Democrat and has vowed to spend up to $3 million of his own funds for the special election.

Jack Davis’ transformation from eccentric, wealthy Cheney-snubee to anti-free-trader to xenophobe to teabagger is now complete. Let the Roster of Fail do its magic!  When asked for comment, the Clownshoes Consultancy had this to say:

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Corwin Backlash, Davis Dodders, Bellavia Battles

23 Feb

Yesterday, tea party activist and hater of tolls Rus Thompson appeared on a radio program hosted by some mulleted, paranoid, Islamophobic, little person. There, Rus explained that he was disappointed that the Republican county chairs in NY-26 had rushed to select Jane Corwin, a solidly doctrinal Republican Assemblywoman, to run for that congressional seat.

Rus said good things about Batavian Iraq War veteran – and the Yin to Jon Powers’ Yang – David Bellavia, and Kathy from Williamsville, the Dr. Laura of uninformed jingoism.  When the noxious paranoiac radio host asked Rus whether he was familiar with Corwin’s policy positions, he replied that he wasn’t. He added that he hadn’t looked into them.

Afterwards, I asked this question on Facebook:

Rus Thompson is upset at the Republican chair’s selection of Jane Corwin because he doesn’t know where she stands on issues. Also, he hasn’t looked into them. WTF.

I tagged Rus in that, so it showed up on his wall, and he replied:

Assembly Member Jane L. Corwin refused to tell citizens where he/she stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.

That is true – Corwin didn’t fill out the 2010 questionnaire. But…

So why not use the 2008 courage test? No one ran against Corwin in 2010, so why would she have bothered to complete a questionnaire? http://votesmart.org/npat.php?can_id=110467#18027

It’s interesting that the Democrats are split two or three different ways in WNY, and they openly bicker & fight over patronage jobs and benefits like rabid dogs all the time.  Yet when it comes time to coalesce behind a consensus candidate for high office like House or Senate, they set aside their petty little local differences and get it done.

The Republicans have traditionally been a unified lot, bickering and fighting over jobs and benefits largely behind the scenes while putting forth a unified front to the public. However, the tea party is completely satisfied to call out the party apparatus in public and split the party; on the one hand are those friendly to the apparatus who understand that winning elections is important, but so is handing out jobs and cutting deals. On the other hand is the tea party, which is, itself, split between the Palinists and the Paulists, and insists on having a seat that it hasn’t really earned at the party’s table.

You earn a seat at that table by doing more than just agitating – you have to do the grunt work that electoral politics demands, like petitioning, canvassing, stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, raising & donating money.  The tea party thinks it’s entitled to be an equal with Nick Langworthy because it gets media attention.  But the Palinist tea partiers are just conservative Republicans, nothing more.

In the meantime, tea party hero and serial emailer Carl Paladino has endorsed Jane Corwin’s candidacy:

I’m a proud member of the Tea Party movement in New York, and together we helped change the face of Congress in November. Jane Corwin will be another member in our movement to take our country back. As the 2nd most conservative member of the New York State Assembly in rankings by the New York State Conservative Party and the #1 Legislator of Unshackle Upstate, a New York reform organization, Jane knows we need to slash federal spending, balance the budget, end bailouts, oppose the Obama stimulus package and support repeal of Obamacare.

Not to be outdone, perennial candidate Leonard Roberto has also endorsed Corwin.  (I think we just got a strong hint as to where Roberto got that $50,000 he “personally” injected into his race just a week or so before election day).

It’s fun to watch the shenanigans.

Why go public and claim that Corwin was shoved down people’s throats as a nominee when you (1) aren’t part of the official selection process; (2) didn’t participate in the NY-26 race in 2008 or 2010; (3) haven’t articulated reasons why she’s unqualified or inappropriate; and (4) haven’t even investigated her positions on issues, and claim that they’re unavailable when they are, in fact, readily available?

Jack Davis is a $3 million man without a party.  He has successfully bullied and angered the Democrats and Republicans, because in Jack’s world, money talks, period. Hopefully the Democrats don’t return his undeserved calls, which leaves him with the option of hiring day laborers to gather petition signatures, most of which will be invalid.  The magic number is 3,500, and if Jack can hire a small army of people to get, say, 10,000 signatures, there’s a good chance he finds his way on the ballot. The problem with Davis is that his anti-immigrant, anti-trade xenophobia appeals not just to rightists, but also to many in labor, so it’s somewhat less predictable how his entry in the race might affect the outcome.

Politico is reporting that David Bellavia is “strongly considering” a race on either the Conservative Party line, or some other line. Bellavia was told in 2008 to step aside for Lee, as it wasn’t “his turn”, and he actively campaigned for Lee over the years, and organized veterans to do the same. Now, he believes it’s his turn, not Corwin’s, and he evidently feels betrayed that the party selected the well-funded Assemblywoman over him to run in this race.  National tea party consultants have injected themselves into the race and advocated for his run.  He released this statement (embed via Daily News):

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In the meantime, the Democrats are biding their time, not rushing into anything for a race that hasn’t even been declared yet.  As of right now, the election to replace Chris Lee in NY-26 will take place in November 2012.

Palinism – Folksy Fascism for the 21st Century

9 Jan
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The face of 21st Century American Fascism

Chris does a wonderful job outlining the violent rhetoric that’s emanated from the angry right over the past couple of years, featuring such stars as Sharron Angle, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and other bright lights among the tea party vanguard.

He titles his post “Inciting a Revolution”.  I disagree with the “Revolution” part, mostly because there’s no coherent or cohesive vision of a new America that these people represent.  They don’t seek a revolution that would somehow change the fundamentals of American representative democracy.  To the contrary, they claim to be the proudest and strongest adherents to its constitutional constructs.  Right down to the reading.

What they’re doing with their nihilist, eliminationist, violent rhetoric is inciting a riot, nothing more.  When Sarah Palin posts Gabrielle Giffords’ name with a gunsight over a map of her congressional district, that’s the same as yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater.  When Palin urges her minions to not “retreat” but “reload”, she’s deliberately and knowingly inciting violence.  Not just any violence – but the kind that murders people.  When you take all of the rhetoric together, from all relevant sources, it’s become evident that the American right wing has become infested with the same dirty bloodlust that led a Niagara County militia follower to blow up the Murrah Federal Building, and the men, women, and children within.

Yesterday, not only did the shooter injure a Congresswoman, but he murdered six people, among them a federal Judge and a nine year-old little girl.  Maybe the 2nd Amendment ought not apply to idiot paranoid schizophrenics.

I watched the alleged shooter’s YouTube videos and he’s not much different from any other semi-literate, uninformed, dumb, mentally ill mass murderers you’d come across in any given day.  We knew anyone who would commit mass murder would be a psychotic.

But that’s the point.  The greater issue is how a certain brand of domestic fascism has made it socially acceptable within that circle to joke about or incite violence against political opponents, and how that might play in an unhinged mind.

Palinism, which is what I’ve come to call the Tea Party movement, is food for the weak-minded.  Her brand of facile exclusionary bully politics, mixed in with clumsy jingoism, virulent hatred, calls to arms, and  deliberate ignorance is little more than a 21st century fascism.  After all, fascism is a hypernationalistic, ignorant, violent, eliminationist, political philosophy that relies on hatred.

When congresspeople can’t hold supermarket meet ‘n greets with constituents without tight security, the very foundation of our representative democracy has been rocked.  That this threat is a domestic one makes it all the more curious.

After all, the Palinists would have you believe that endless war is so totally necessary to protect our motherland fatherland homeland.  Yet the biggest risk the homeland faces is from the Palinist fascists themselves.

For fascism to grow, it needs a mortal enemy.  In Italy, it was the foreigners, democrats, and socialists who helped bring about perceived post-WWI slights preventing it from becoming a great power.  In Germany, it was the Versailles “Diktat”, which the Nazis blamed on foreign democracies and “international Jewry”.  For the Palinist fascists, it’s Obama and American Democrats for plunging America into Soviet-style communism by passing health care reform and suggesting cap & trade.

Here, the spark that lit the fire of Palinist fascism was the election of Barack Obama.  Although he’s as corporate-friendly a centrist Democrat as you’re likely ever to find, because of his name, his family history, his past employment, and his race, the Palinists have beat a drum for quite literally two + years that Obama is some sort of Muslim, foreign, Kenyan, unAmerican, Marxist, Communist usurper.  Although he legitimately won a fair and free election in 2008, they seek to delegitimize him through lies that play to people’s fears and rank prejudices.

You know, when liberals complained about George W. Bush’s legitimacy, people forget that there was a Supreme Court case fought over that very issue.  The claim, as they say, was colorable.  Here, no such factual basis exists.

Even though a solid majority of Americans voted for Barack Obama and, in turn, the policies he proposed, the Palinists claimed – shouted – that his perfectly reasonable policy proposals were tantamount to an abolition of the American experiment altogether.  We’d be subsumed by the United Nations or  the New World Order or whatever the bogeyman-du-jour might be, and America would become some sort of big, huge Cuba.

The rhetoric turned especially ugly when the Democrats passed a health care reform program that gave consumers more rights and failed to fundamentally change the status quo.  Note the date of the Palin tweet above.  Then note the date of this story.  Those Palinist fascist calls for a blood orgy were made the day after the heath care reform bill was passed.

When fascists complain falsely, but loudly enough about the legitimacy, policies, and danger to the republic the President and his party represent – bad things are bound to happen.

And then, when those bad things happen, they whine and cry about how both sides need to tamp down the rhetoric.

Well, no

Both sides don’t need to tamp down the rhetoric.  One side is guilty of maintaining or giving express or implied support and approval of eliminationist, hateful, violent, dehumanization of its opponents. The American right wing has become radicalized beyond recognition – its rhetoric and lies, and its calls to violence go far beyond what is acceptable in a western pluralist democratic republic.  Its behavior is ignorant fascism, and it’s time we called it that.  It’s also time that the opponents of that Palinist virus become more effective at rhetorically politically defeating it.

Luckily, America is better than Palinist fascism – a militant, violent, uninformed, ignorant, hateful and un-Democratic bucket of incitement.

Manning Up to Palin

2 Dec

Well, it’s about time.

Your humble writer has been waiting for a reputable national voice to harmonize with on the subject of Sarah Palin since her fortunate VP election loss. I had begun to fear that no such voice was coming. At least, before it was too late. Two years ago I declared Sarah Palin not the future. Since then it has been more a hope than a substantial prediction. Now, finally, blemishes in the immutable Republican Wall are appearing, and it seems our private political wilderness soul searching may finally turn public.

Image courtesy iMaksim.com

Conservatives have long taken unity as a point of pride. But equally cherished is Seriousness, of which Palin does not have a single bit in her entire body. Outsiders to the Republican movement can be forgiven for seeing a single monolith and criticizing it as such. But the fault lines are now publicly being displayed, and how the fractured Republican base reacts in the next year in the run-up to the next primary will be interesting to watch. Some camps to watch for and take note of:

It was The Bow Tie Crowd that drew me to Conservatism in the first place. These intellects, now mostly deceased, looked at the world with pragmatism as their ideology, and what worked became policy. William Buckley, Irving Kristol, William Safire were the greats – their (at times) adequate successors of George Will, David Brooks, and Charles Krauthammer (those who harrumphed at Krauthammer should read his very well reasoned and prescient recommendation to restructure the tax code around a gas tax – in effect, the Liberal dream consumption tax) will influence what is left of the reasoned, thinking wing of the party. Joe Scarborough’s defense of the “blue bloods” was really a defense of a more reasonable age where principles were held in a loser grip, and compromise was less of a four letter word. David Frum’s firing from the Bow Tie stronghold of the American Enterprise Institute did not bode well for the long term success of thinking conservatives. Perhaps we can reverse this trend. 

In the George W. Bush era, too many bow tie wearers branched off into Neo-conservatism. Irving’s progeny took up residency here some time ago, and Krauthammer dips his wheelchair spoke in regularly. Nostalgia for the Cold War and a “Yes We Can” attitude has been broken, humbled in wars in Central Asia that most Republicans are now questioning. Many outside of Republican circles may not realize that the neo-con movement involved large chunks of voters, not just a circle of Presidential advisors. Huge percentages of the electorate in 2002 and 2004 listed national security as their #1 issue. By 2006, that vote waned, and the movement lost steam, the Iraq Surge as the last full-throated gasp. The only national security issue I see in 2012 is how soon we are leaving Afghanistan, and at what cost. If Korea goes hot, however, please disregard everything I write in this column.

The previous boogeyman of the Left, the godful Evangelical Right, has been quietly disillusioned for some time. Note that Mike Huckabee is not a serious player, and Mitt Romney is a legit candidate. Sarah Palin spends more time burnishing her tax cutting rhetoric than publicly discussing her faith and explaining how she speaks in tongues. It will be better for the country as a whole if what is Caesar’s is left to Caesar, and the evangelicals concentrate on their faith and good works outside of the explicitly political arena.  

Which leaves us with the unhereto unmentioned Tea Party, the comic book-like hero antithesis of the Bow Tie villain. Uninformed, angry, unreasoned, and potent. Now that the grassroots enthusiasm won a (in the grand scheme of things, unimportant) midterm, the party is starting to question the rationality of letting such a force dictate the play for the upcoming grand prize in 2012. And for good reason. The Tea Party, like all emotional and ideologically driven movements, would rather take defeat over an impure victory. It is the great strength of America’s two party system that the establishment party battleships do not feel this way.

Many astute readers at this point are wondering where the vast majority of prominent Republican politicians fit in. Why, no where, of course. Mitch McConnell, John McCain, John Boehner, et al ceased having a camp a long time ago, and are now Corporate Politicians, more similar to their colleagues across the aisle than the constituency movements that organize to elect them. Those few politicians that are still part of a movement (Rand Paul) never rise to sufficient prominence to lead the party generally, though they can influence policy choices. And previous corporate politicians reduce their national chances by veering too far – intellectual heavyweight Newt Gingrich, for example, proponent of healthcare reform, has descended into Tea Party madness.

An intriguing difference between Republicans and Democrats is the opposing models their cultures use to head their movements. Democrats seek an Intellectual. Republicans look for a Leader and Manager. Conservative policy wonks would rather be on a staff or in a think tank than run for office. Democrats want their wonks (Clinton, Obama) on the top of the ticket. When elected, this means Republican Presidents have a deep bench of advisors, department heads, and policy analysts at their disposal. Democrats, not so much. At first blush, in 2000, George Bush was the perfect candidate – an empty vessel who would hire the right people and whose gut was in the right place. His appointees had more clout, credentials, and staying power than his successor, who chose poorly initially, and is seeing an exodus early. The model that has served Republicans well – pick a leader who leans on the intellectuals – is in peril. 

So where does this leave us for 2012? Is the party current capable of choosing Reagan, Bush or Bush again? Republicans are not comfortable with public disagreements and battles. We prefer to find a consensus candidate that balances competing forces – Bow Ties, Neo-cons, Evangelicals and Tea Partiers – behind the scenes. Joe Scarborough has rightly recognized that the danger in 2012 is that Sarah Palin, a vacuous movement true believer, has a shot at blowing that well crafted system out of the water. Will the rational party rally to save itself? We can hope.