by Walter Brasch
AR Senior Correspondent
Aug. 21, 2011
TEA PARTY SNAKE OIL FOR SALE
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- The Tea Party, mutant spawn of billionaires and the Republican Party, held their spineless parents and the nation hostage during the debt ceiling crisis, and now demands an even greater ransom.
Flushed with what they mistakenly believe is success, they have launched an all-out assault upon the presidency. Their generals, fattened by Iowa corn and midway schmaltz, are Rep. Michele Bachmann (D-MN), Gov. Rick Perry, ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, and Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, hovering near the battlefields to soak up the media sunlight, much like a black hole absorbs all energy and light from nearby stars, is waiting to see how the war goes (and if she can write some intelligent sentences) before deciding to re-enter battle.
Bachmann is the winner of the strangest political non-election in the country, the Iowa Straw Poll. She won the race the old-fashioned way: she bought it.
To make sure that Iowans entered the Tents of Instant Gratification and, thus, cast their ballot the right way, the candidates, who paid $15,000 to $31,000 to rent space at Iowa State, provided food, music, and carnival fun for the voters. Bachman had a petting zoo, and drew fans to a concert by country superstar Randy Travis. Cost of the banquet: $30 a ticket.
To assure there were enough votes, Bachmann's campaign, like all other campaigns, paid the $30 admission ticket. That would be $144,690 for 4,823 votes, plus several hundred thousand dollars in related campaign expenses. Related campaign expenses for the candidates included renting charter buses to bring voters from throughout Iowa to Ames.
But, Iowans aren't stupid. Many wanted to see Randy Travis and eat the food of politics but didn't plan to vote for Bachmann. About 6,000 persons took the "free" $30 tickets. Thus, she officially paid $180,000, $37.32 a vote; unofficially, with all expenses figured in, the cost could easily have been well over $200 a vote so she could be the winner and earn the title of Media Darlin' of the Week.
The establishment media generally avoided Ron Paul, the second place winner, who "only" got 4,671 votes, 152 less than Bachmann, and 27.7 percent. Paul is a pariah in the Republican party, and something the media can't figure out, because he actually has a core set of principles, which sometimes leads him to ally with liberals, but for different reasons.
Third place, with 13.6 percent of the vote and, according to numerous media pundits not charismatic enough to be a serious contender, went to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who didn't drink much of the tea and dropped out of the race after spending about $1 million in Iowa.
Not dropping out were Tea Party favorites Sen. Rick Santorum (9.8 percent) and entrepreneur Herman Cain (8.6 percent), who lured voters into his tent with free Godfather's Pizza.
Mitt Romney, the former Governotr of Massachusetts, who had spent about $2 million in 2007 but skipped this year's non-binding Straw Poll, finished behind former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Dripping tea with every statement he makes, Perry entered the presidential race only after the Iowa Straw Poll, but did get 718 write-in votes for 4.3 percent of the vote.
Nevertheless, Romney is still believed to be the GOP front-runner.
Thus, going into the primary season, the Tea Party can arouse themselves with Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, Cain, and maybe Palin. Not identified with the planets of the Tea Party, but in their orbit are Romney, former Utah governor and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, and whatever is left of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's chances.
The Tea Party began a few months after Barack Obama was elected President with the stated purpose of reducing wild government spending. But the party's deep structure shows an amorphous bunch of white middle-class ultra-conservatives, aided by upper-class political consultants, media manipulators and the billionaire Koch brothers. They have developed the ability to sound impressive by relying on thehalf-truths behind their rants and chants, and won recognition for their zealous determination to keep President Obama from a second term.
During the debt ceiling crisis, Tea Party member of Congress and the U.S. Senate refused to budge on a demand of not raising the debt ceiling, but cutting numerous social and educational programs instead, while holding firm to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Everyone must cut back, they bleated, especially during economic crises. Austerity is their mantra.
Based upon their extravagant lifestyle and the wild spending they did in Iowa, shouldn't "hypocrisy" be their mantra now?
As a young reporter in Iowa, Brasch covered everything from fairs to politics to rock concerts. His current book is Before the First Snow, available at www.greeleyandstone.com, www.amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble. Meet Dr. Brasch at www.facebook.com/walterbrasch.