Steele Wants To Tea Party!

Michael Steele, the new RNC chairman, really doesn't know what the hell he's doing.

Tomorrow is the big day for the "Tax Day Tea Parties," to protest big-government taxing and spending, among other grievances of the far right/libertarian crowd. As I previously blogged, I've got nothing against it -- when people disagree with their government, this is exactly what they should do.

However, it's terrible politics for the Republican Party. If I may reach for an analogy, most Americans currently think of Republicans the way they might think of their teenage son who drove the family car into a ditch. They've grounded him, taken away his keys, and sent him to his room, and for the moment they really just don't even want to look at him.

To stretch the analogy, Barack Obama is the uncle who has come over to try to repair the car. People aren't necessarily convinced that he knows what he's doing, but they can at least see him out there in the driveway working on it.

The last thing these people want is Junior Car-Wrecker yelling and screaming that Uncle Obama is a jackass who's doing everything wrong and is ruining the car.

So the GOP has been smart about keeping its distance from the whole Tea Party thing -- much as Democrats in the past have tried to keep some visible distance between the party and lefty protests, calls for Bush impeachment,, etc.

Sure, you'll get a handful of ideological congressmen participating. It happened to the Democrats (Kucinich, Barbara Lee, etc.), and now it's happening with the Republicans: Chaffetz, Bishop, Myrick, Shadegg, Latta, and some others are planning to speak at Tea Party events. That's not great for the party, but as long as it's individual congressmen -- no leaders, no Senators, no party officials -- it's not too damaging

Unfortunately for the GOP -- and as I have written and spoken about many times -- their primaries are now dominated by the kinds of angry 'movement conservatives' who are all over this Tax Day Tea Party thing. So, there's quite an incentive to embrace the Tea Parties if you're planning to run in a primary for higher office. 

Thus we have Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, who plans on running for Senate in 2010 in a hot battle with Jerry Moran, scheduled to speak at the Overland Park Tea Party. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, who is running for Governor in 2010, attended a Tea Party at Univ. of Oklahoma over the weekend. Jack Kingston of Georgia, who is considering a run for Governor, is promoting local Tea Parties on his blog. Lynn Westmoreland, another possible candidate for Georgia governor, will speak at the Atlanta Tea Party. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2010, will speak at a Tea Party in Madison. Texas Governor Rick Perry, facing a tough 2010 primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, will speak at a Tea Party in Ft. Worth.

South Carolina's Gresham Barrett -- a staunch conservative who needs to atone to the right for his TARP vote --is running for Governor in 2010, in what will be a very competitive primary. He is not only scheduled to speak at the Greenville Tea Party, he also recently introduced the "TEA Act", "inspired by the more than two hundred modern day Tea Party protests being held around the country." Senator David Vitter, who is terrified of a challenge from the right in 2010, is championing an effort to have the US Senate formally recognize National Tea Party Day.

And then there are the even bigger names -- the ones with their eyes on the 2012 GOP Presidential primaries.

Mike Huckabee is hosting a "Fair Tax" rally the same day -- conveniently in Columbia, South Carolina, the state with one of the most important early primaries. (Cong. Steve King of Iowa, who is considering a run for Governor, will speak there as well.) South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford -- #1 on my list of likely GOP Pres. nominees -- will speak at the Columbia Tea Party. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina -- #3 on my list -- will speak at one (at least).  

Still, even with all of that, most of the GOP leadership, Senators, and Governors -- as well as big names like Romney and Palin -- have steered clear. So the GOP as a whole is still maintaining some distance.

Ah, but there goes RNC chair Michael Steele.

First, he apparently asked to speak at the Chicago Tea Party and was rejected. (He has denied formally requesting to speak.)

Now, he's sent out a fundraising solicitation explicitly endorsing the Tea Parties.

The email, headlined  "Enough is Enough: Send a Tea Bag," starts off by reminding us that Joe Biden called paying taxes "patriotic." It goes on:

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I don't believe there is anything patriotic about giving more of your hard-earned money to the government to bankroll the liberal Democrats' agenda to increase spending to record levels, change the tax code to redistribute the wealth of working families, and destroy the savings of millions of middle-class Americans.

So on this Tax Day, April 15, the Republican National Committee is asking you, along with hundreds of thousands of grassroots activists across our country, to assert a real patriotic act by sending a virtual tea bag to Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the rest of the tax, spend and borrow Democrats. Let them know enough is enough and you don't approve of their plan to pass the largest tax hike in American history.

And when you send your virtual tea bag today, I hope you will also take this opportunity to make a secure online contribution of $25, $50, $100, $500 or $1,000 to the RNC today to help fund our efforts to resist the massive tax and spending increases Barack Obama and the Pelosi-Reid Democrats are attempting to ram through Congress. 

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