I sneaked up to Nashville to scope out the "National Tea Party Convention."
I wrote critically of the tea party convention some time ago and expressed some serious concerns that Sarah Palin was going to hurt herself unintentionally by associating with it.
I'm glad I went and saw it for myself.
To be clear: I still have concerns. I still think there were some people without the best of intentions trying to make some money off of this. The rhetoric along the lines of "since when did we oppose for profit motives" is crap when it comes to activism like this because the activism is important and lining pockets along the way detracts from that. The $550.00 fee, plus everything else, was excessive for a lot of people.
Overall though, I think a lot of the people — most of the people — involved in organizing this did in fact have the best of intentions but were the proverbial dog who caught the car. I hate to use the word "amateurs", but that is in fact what it boils down to. These guys had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
I think branding this as a "national" tea party convention was and is a bit presumptuous given what the tea party movement is, but in my time walking around, talking to people, hearing people, and repeatedly having to defend Sarah Palin to a skeptical press, I think the convention turned out okay.
The organizers were just overwhelmed. Adding Sarah Palin to it mushroomed it.
On Sarah Palin
The best thing to happen to the tea party movement is Sarah Palin. It is very clear she did not know the circumstances involved in finding the money to get her to Nashville. It is also very clear that the money is not going to her — it is going to the cause. She'll use this money as part of a war chest to help elect likeminded people.
I think the tea party movement largely exists due to the absence of real leadership. Too often the tea party activists elected people who claimed to be concerned about the cost of government and then got to DC and betrayed the voters' trust.
Sarah Palin's governance shows she not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. As her voice grows, many of the voices of the alleged tea party leaders will diminish. Palin's history is one of a woman who gets involved and leaves places better than she found them. The tea party movement will be left better off by Sarah Palin. And I hope that some of those who brought her in to the tea party movement will exit through the door she entered.
I was profoundly disappointed to hear Joseph Farah of World Net Daily hijack the convention and try to treat the birther issue as legitimate. The birther issue is not legitimate. There is no lingering constitutional issue. There never was.
Yesterday, I spent a lot of time talking about the meaning of the tea party movement and voter angst. Once Farah opened his claptrap, every question was about the birther movement. Way to go.
And that goes to a larger issue with this particular convention. With few expections, among them Sarah Palin, the featured speakers were virtual unknowns or, like Farah, increasingly on the fringe.
I do not think Sarah Palin must disavow or repudiate Joseph Farah. That's distracting nonsense largely put out there by people who don't like Sarah Palin. I think Governor Palin's actions will show she too believes this birther issue to be a nonsensical distraction that is not credible. She can do this without throwing well meaning, but confused activists under the bus.