The Great Tea Party Swindle

Frank Rich, in today’s New York Times, suggests that the Tea Party movement is being fostered because it allows ready access easy marks. Here’s a clip:

…Both Steele and Palin claim to be devotees of the tea party movement. “I’m a tea partier, I’m a town-haller, I’m a grass-roots-er” is how Steele put it in a recent radio interview, wet-kissing a market he hopes will buy his book. Palin has far more grandiose ambitions. She recently signed on as a speaker for the first Tea Party Convention, scheduled next month in Nashville — even though she had turned down a speaking invitation from the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, the traditional meet-and-greet for the right. The conservative conference doesn’t pay. The Tea Party Convention does. A blogger at Nashville Scene reported that Palin’s price for the event was $120,000.

The entire Tea Party Convention is a profit-seeking affair charging $560 a ticket — plus the cost of a room at the Opryland Hotel. Among the convention’s eight listed sponsors is Tea Party Emporium, which gives as its contact address 444 Madison Avenue in New York, also home to the high-fashion brand Burberry. This emporium’s Web site offers a bejeweled tea bag at $89.99 for those furious at “a government hell bent on the largest redistribution of wealth in history.” This is almost as shameless as Glenn Beck, whose own tea party profiteering has included hawking gold coins merchandised by a sponsor of his radio show.

Last week a prominent right-wing blogger, Erick Erickson of, finally figured out that the Tea Party Convention “smells scammy,” likening it to one of those Nigerian e-mails promising untold millions. Such rumbling about the movement’s being co-opted by hucksters may explain why Palin used her first paid appearance at Fox last Tuesday to tell Bill O’Reilly that she would recycle her own tea party profits in political contributions. But Erickson had it right: the tea party movement is being exploited — and not just by marketers, lobbyists, political consultants and corporate interests but by the Republican Party, as exemplified by Palin and Steele, its most prominent leaders…

Speaking of Palin, and her need for cold, hard cash, it’s being reported today that In Touch magazine paid her $100,000 for the photos of her family featured in this week’s issue.

I’m making a Tea Party night of it. Right now, I’m sitting here on my couch, with a cup of tea in my hand, listening intently to two tea baggers being interviewed by Tom Ashbrook, the host of NPR’s On Point. It’s mind-bendingly insane stuff. Right now, one of them is calling Obama a National Socialist, and suggesting that Jews should be very concerned. I get why NPR would, in the spirit of telling both sides of the story, reach out to representatives of the Tea Party movement, but it seems odd to me to that these lunatics are being given a national podium from which to spout fictional nonsense without being challenged on it.

One of the individuals being interviewed, an unemployed auto worker from Royal Oak, Michigan by the name of Jeffery McQueen, has started an organization called US Revolution 2. And, as I’m sure Frank Rich would like for me to point out, he’s currently making a living selling flags celebrating the second American revolution to his fellow tea partiers. (It’s basically Betsy Ross’s flag with a roman numeral two sewn inside the circle of stars.)

Oh, and I can’t be sure, but it sounds like one of the tea baggers being interviewed, when asked why this is all happening now, says that Obama was, “the straw that brought the camels back.”

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  1. Edward
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    We should think of a product to sell the Tea Partiers, like a “keep the government out of my medicare” bathrobe or adult diaper.

  2. Peter Larson
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. It’s only 8:30, though.

  3. Alice
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Maybe some kind of glass jar full of leeches that says, “Patriot Healthcare.”

  4. Dan
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s also interesting the Right’s use of the flag in inappropriate ways, such as on clothing (“The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.” (Flag Code, Section 8d)). The US revolution 2 flag seems to be a blatant violation of the United States Flag Code (“The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.” (Flag Code, Section 8g.))

    Perhaps it’s time for reasonable people to begin displaying the flag in respectful ways. Check it out.

  5. Edwina
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I consider myself a teabagger, and I’d love it if I could only buy Tea Party sanctioned items. But, that’s not possible. I, for instance, cannot buy a Glenn Beck Tear Water Douche. I have to get the corporate kind. And it sickens me.

  6. Posted January 18, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    My prediction is that within 6 months, instead of being given the option to “biggie size” your fries and drinks at fast food places, you’ll be asked it you want to upgrade to “patriot size.”

    And I love the idea of a Glenn Beck Tear Water Douche… Can someone out there mock one up? I’d love to have an image to send to him.

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