The Tea Party's Credit
The Republican House leadership bungled a stopgap spending bill and brought the country to the verge of a government shutdown, again. The third time is not the charm. The fourth time looms ahead in seven weeks. It has become a gambit that the GOP’s Tea Party faction seems to prefer to responsible governance because it works to accomplish two things: first, it stymies the Speaker of the House by factionalizing the majority over which he is supposed to preside and second, it exercises the childish power of the word “no.”
“The Tea Party will run its course,” Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) told me in an interview recently, “I haven’t seen procedure so screwed-up.” It's "a time of rancor," he said. "I’m not proud of what Congress has done." Stark has been in Congress for 38 years and said that he has never seen things so contentious and non-productive. However, what the Tea Party’s “course” is has yet to be seen.
The impact of its angry rhetoric, with the catch phrase “take the country back,” in my opinion, seems to be in decline in the relative absence of its most influential spokesperson, Sarah Palin. Even Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) appears to be more Republican centrist than he did when he walked out of the Vice President Joe Biden negotiations during the August debt ceiling standoff. But, it is the open Tea Party contempt for process that will damage the GOP for a long time and hurt the country in the process.
Republican sympathizers live in denial. They are prone to say that the Democrats are the core of the problem as they insist that Democrats suffered a “resounding defeat in 2010 that will be followed by what will look like a bloodbath in 2012,” as a Texas Republican Party operative I know puts it. National media are financial beneficiaries and need to keep this story churning, so words like “bloodbath” fit the form. But such phraseology is just a projection of wishful thinking on the Republicans’ part.Continued on the next page