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EDITOR OF REDSTATE

‘Erickson Had it Right.’ Frank Rich is Still Wrong.

I always like reading Frank Rich. He’s like the anthropologist who always gets it wrong. It makes for great comedy — think Mr. Bean as Jane Goodall.Behold his latest overreach that leaves such a stink he must not have worn deodorant before reaching.I write this only because Rich uses me to prop up his straw men. He writes:

Last week a prominent right-wing blogger, Erick Erickson of RedState.com, 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.

Now, pay attention:“Erick Erickson of RedState.com, finally figured out that the Tea Party Convention ‘smells scammy’.“The focus of my post and of Rich’s sentence is the Tea Party Convention — nothing more and nothing less.Then we go to the very next sentence: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.”Whoa???!?! How did he jump to that from me? We need something longer than the bridge to the 21st century to cross that chasm of logic going from one convention unrepresentative of a very large movement to the movement itself. But wait . . . there’s more:”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.“Believe it or not, until he gets to “as exemplified by Palin and Steele, its most prominent leaders”, Rich would be right if he used the words “trying to be” before the word “exploited.” Yet another Frank Rich overreach.There are lots of marketers, lobbyists, consultants, and corporate interests trying to get in bed with the tea party movement and use the movement for its own purposes. But Palin and Steele?Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, most of the tea party guys care as little for the GOP as they do the Democrats. Sure, Steele was invited by some GOP consultants affiliated with the Nashville convention, but is he going to be speaking? No. In fact, if you look at the speakers list you’ll see it is a who’s who list of GOP anti-establishmentarians, not insiders. Definitely not establishment types.As for Palin? Rich is trying to build up activists to tear down Palin, but in fact Palin and the activists are one together. Sarah Palin is the epitome of the tea party activist — a mom who got involved in politics because the political establishment in Wasilla, Alaska was misspending sales tax revenue. Just as wasteful spending in Wasilla got her involved in politics, the federal waste and spending is getting lots of moms, dads, and kids involved in politics today.Yes, Rich is right about the attempted exploitation of the tea party movement. But his cast of characters, culprits, and criminals is all wrong. If he had attempted to be honest, instead of spending an entire column trying to make Steele and Palin look corrupt, it could have been a reasonable column. But then when Mr. Bean parodies Jane Goodall, he spends his time studying the suits on Wall Street convinced they are chimpanzees in Africa. It makes for a laugh with a smidgen of truth, but then it’s all for comedy.

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