Last September, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin answered critics who predicted that the movement would soon peter out: “The Tea Party movement is here to stay.” Seven months later, presidential candidate Herman Cain — a Tea Party favorite — echoed the same sentiment: “I have people asking me all the time. Do you think this Tea-Party ‘thing’ is going to go away? [...] No, it’s not going away. It’s gonna get stronger and stronger.”
A ThinkProgress investigation, however, shows a far different picture. Indeed, empirical evidence points to one conclusion: Tea Party activity has declined sharply thus far in 2011.
For this report, ThinkProgress examined the total number of events across the country listed on the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) websites each month. We then compared the number of Tea Parties that occurred in 2010 with the number that took place in the first seven months of 2011.
The results were startling. For TPP, fewer than half the number of Tea Party events took place in the first seven months of 2011 compared to the same time period in 2010. Furthermore, while an average of 337 Tea Parties were held across the country each month of 2010, this year that number has dropped to just 166 events per month and continues to decline.
You can read the letter to colleagues right here. Just as the passage of Cut, Cap, and Balance built new faith with the skeptics in his conference, the tone of this letter — it’s like he left the battlefield with both arms bandaged, leaving a trail of empty shotgun shells — says to the conservatives, “I did it all for you.”
The part about working with Senate leaders suggests that we might get new short-term deal without the Obama brand on it, which would be more acceptable to conservatives.
Facing a barrage of criticism, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) remains defiant and says he won’t apologize to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) for adisparaging email in which he called her “vile, unprofessional, and despicable” and “not a lady.” On Fox Business Network this morning, West said an apology is “not happening,” and then tried to blame his poor etiquette on the military. West, a veteran who was discharged from the Army for abusing an Iraqi, said “there are certain ways we talk in the military. I guess I haven’t learned the DC-insider talk.” As if basic civility is something only practiced inside the Beltway.
It’s insulting for West to attribute his behavior to an institution that places a premium on respect. In the same interview, West even tried to blame Wasserman Schultz for the incident, saying it was her decision to release the private tirade he sent to her to the media.
As GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-MN) surges in the polls, more information is coming to light about her past that reveal the depths of her political and religious extremism. The Bachmanns’ counseling clinic practices discredited and damagingex-gay therapy to “cure” homosexuality.
Slate’s Dave Weigel has reported an audio recording of Bachmann praying for the notoriously anti-gay ministryYou Can Run But You Can’t Hide, run by the radical preacher Bradlee Dean. Bachmann offered the prayer in 2006 (though the recording was uploaded in 2008). In it, Bachmann predicts, “We are in the last days,” and says, “The harvest is at hand” — a Biblical allusion to the Rapture when some believe God will take saved Christians from the earth and leave the non-believers to face several years of torment and tribulation before the second coming of Christ:
BACHMANN: Lord, the day is at hand. We are in the last days. You are a Jehovah God. We know that the times are in your hands. And we give them to you…The day is at hand, Lord, when your return will come nigh. Nothing is more important than bringing sheep into the fold. Than bringing new life into the kingdom…You have weeded that garden. The harvest is at hand.
As Weigel noted, it’s not terribly surprising that Bachmann is among those evangelical Christians who believe the end of the world is imminent. But it’s still disconcerting that someone campaigning to lead America into the future believes that its days are numbered and millions of its citizens are doomed. Bachmann has toned down her religious rhetoric considerably since hitting the campaign trail.
Also jarring is Bachmann’s belief that “nothing is more important than” converting people before the world ends. As she weighs in on critical debates like whether or not to let the U.S. default on its obligations, it’s troubling that Bachmann is rooting for the apocalypse.
During the prayer session Bachmann asked God to expand the anti-gay ministry of Bradlee Dean. Dean has been described as “Bachmann’s Jeremiah Wright” since his radical statements pose a political problem for the candidate. Dean has repeatedly called for gays and lesbians to be put in prison and has said executing gays is “moral.” He also directs his invective at Muslims and Democrats.
The acrimonious debate over raising the debt ceiling has shined a spotlight on partisan rancor in Washington. Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, who wrote a 2006 book saying Congress was “broken,” now says at Foreign Policy that hardliners in both parties have gained such “inordinate power” that compromise, even on crucial matters such as keeping the government from defaulting on its debt for the first time ever, is essentially dead. Even back in 1969, when the country was deeply divided over the Vietnam War, Capitol Hill was “considerably less dysfunctional” than it is now. Is this really the “worst Congress ever”?
Yes. And it won’t get better anytime soon: It’s hard to argue that the 112th Congress isn’t “the worst one ever,” says The Economist. It’s even more depressing when you realize that this is not a temporary shift due to transient factors, such as the rise of the Tea Party, but “the culmination of a long period of realignment in American politics” that has left the parties polarized. Things are likely to get even worse in 2012, as redistricting and acrimonious primaries pick off more moderates, one by one. “Worst Congress ever?”
Blame the self-serving motivations of both parties: Republicans are afraid Tea Partiers will stay home in 2012 unless they cut spending at all costs, says Charlie Cook at The Atlantic. Democrats made the same mistake in 2009 and 2010, when they “obsessed about their base and ignored independent and swing voters.” Both sides would do well to remember that independents often tip elections, and they hate all this “sophomoric, partisan towel-snapping” — they just want Washington to function. “Memo to the GOP: Focus on independents”
House Republicans were cautioned Thursday in a closed door meeting with credit rating agency officials that a “death spiral” in the bond market was one of the possible outcomes in the event of default.
One official warned of a worst-case scenario in which a default on the nation’s credit could result in a rapid drop in bond values, sparking chaos in the markets — a dramatic warning asWashington worked on a possible deal on deficit reduction and an increase in the debt limit.
Members who attended the meeting later countered that the tone of the discussion was not nearly as apocalyptic as the phrase initially made it sound. According to sources inside the room, the “death spiral” term was also used in reference to the collapse of Lehmann Brothers in September 2008 as a historical example.
Rep. Nan Hayworth, a freshman Republican from New York, hosted this off-the-record meeting with GOP House lawmakers Thursday afternoon. Hayworth called the meeting a “dispassionate and objective” discussion about the potentially disastrous consequences of not raising the debt ceiling by the August deadline. But Republicans said they were also told that unless the government undertook a serious deficit reduction program, the credit ratings could still assign a negative outlook to the nation’s debt anyway.
“If we do nothing, if we simply raise the debt ceiling, without a change in America’s spending trajectory then the markets will react negatively as well. That’s certainly the message I took away,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.).