Ever since Michele Bachmann gave the “official” Tea Party response to the 2011 State of the Union address, it’s been obvious that the GOP has completely lost control of the monster it created. Following Bachmann’s bad joke of a speech, made infinitely worse by the fact that she was looking at the wrong camera, was Herman Cain’s attempt at glory in 2012. While not as terrible as Bachmann’s performance, it was still a speech devoid of substance. Much like the Tea Party itself.
But in keeping with this tradition of finding the most extreme fringe candidate, this year’s Tea Party response will be delivered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Gault Wanna Be). Paul will begin his speech shortly after Sen. Marco Rubio delivers the official GOP response. But why does the Tea Party need a separate response? According to a statement by Amy Kremer, chairman of the Koch funded Tea Party Express, “We are giving a voice to the tea party movement when the mainstream media and the Republican establishment wants to write us off as dead.”
The dueling GOP speeches come at a time when a very public rift is developing between the Republican establishment and conservative activists over the direction of the party. Some grassroots activists are specifically angry at Karl Rove and other Republicans for stating that they will choose sides in upcoming Republican primaries and only financially help candidates who have a chance of winning in the general election.
The speech will serve as both a rebuttal to President Obama as well as the establishment Republican machine most recently embodied by Karl Rove’s “Conservative Victory Group.” Karl Rove, correctly assessing that the Tea Party is great for energizing the base but terrible for winning elections, has declared open war on the extreme right wing of his party. The same wing that he, himself, helped gain power in the first place after the disastrous Bush administration left the Republican Party in disarray and in need of a face lift. Now that the Tea Party has displayed a stunning capacity for losing easy elections and giving a very loud voice to the truly nasty beliefs that comprise the heart of modern day conservatism, Rove is making an effort to kill off his monster. He’s not interested in changing the politics of the party, of course, but he’s certainly interested in finding candidates who are at least smart enough to shut the hell up when it comes to minor issues like rape and abortion.
All of this infighting is great news for liberals and Democrats since the conservative movement has completely lost the ability to make a rational political argument. Instead, it relies solely on the politics of personal destruction and vicious attack ads. We saw this in play during the 2011-2012 Republican presidential primaries and there is no denying that it hurt Mitt Romney’s chances. As the two sides, the monied interests backing the establishment GOP and the extremists of the Tea Party, wage a very public war on each other, the damage they do to the right wing as a whole will be incalculable.
I don’t know which side to cheer but I will definitely have my popcorn for the show!