Well, well... Here's a shocker: Ron Johnson is once again slithering out of too-close-for-comfort alignment with the tea party.
A friend in Wisconsin's conservative grassroots just drew my attention to a Politico article dated today: January 21st, 2011, 4:10pm. The title of the article...? Tea Party Favorites Skip Senate Caucus. And who's prominently mentioned as staying out of the Senate's newly formed Tea Party Caucus...? Why none other than RoJo the Recanter...
Johnson said through his spokeswoman Friday that he has no plans of joining the caucus.
"I sprang from the tea party and have great respect for what it represents," said Johnson in a prepared statement. "The reason I ran for the U.S. Senate was to not only stop the Obama agenda but reverse it. I believe our best chance of doing that is to work towards a unified Republican conference, so that's where I will put my energy."
This quote clinches what I have maintained from the start: Johnson USED the veneer of the tea party movement to get elected. He was NEVER OF THE TEA PARTY. It's really just more of what had already become a familiar pattern in the eyes of grassroots conservative Wisconsinites during the lead-up to Wisconsin's 2010 primary and general elections.
At the Defending the American Dream Summit held by Americans for Prosperity in March of 2010, Ronny was merrily introducing himself and passing his card around. Billing himself as a tea partier, he let it be known that he was thinking about running for U.S. Senate. There were already clues at that point that he wasn't what he claimed to be.
Johnson's tea party story washed even less at Wisconsin's GOP convention in May, where associates of mine watched him veer conveniently back and forth between pretending to be grassroots and then reassuring establishment types that it was all campaign strategy. No kidding.
How he expected the grassroots to believe he was for real is beyond me. His entire campaign staff and all of the people that came out to support, endorse, and second him at convention were establishment. But hell, that shouldn't have given anyone pause, should it...?
The crowning glory? In June, Johnson admitted on camera that he'd read the United States Constitution only a handful of times after deciding to run for office and found it a difficult document to read. However, in an autumn debate with Russ Feingold, he declared himself a long-time reader of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. Which do you believe...?
The establishment machine that assisted heavily in passing Johnson off on Wisconsin voters as a "tea party candidate" included none other than then state party chair Reince "the Rigger" Priebus, who, for his duplicitous efforts on this and other fronts has since been duly promoted to the paid position of RNC Chair.
[What a wonderful party we have... What a marvelous party. I feel like drinking champagne. A lot of it. Not to celebrate. No, just to get bloody-well drunk and forget for a few blissful moments that as a member of the GOP, I pay dues to have this insanity foisted on me. I won't, of course, imbibe because I have too much work to do to ensure that this sort of crap continues only over my cold, dead body.]
It was widely whispered in conservative circles during Wisconsin's primary season that Little Reince was eyeing the role of RNC Chair. It was also widely understood that his golden ticket to moving from state to a paid position at national was booting Russ Feingold out of office and replacing him with a Republican. Any Republican at all, really.
Now, did I like Russ Feingold? HELL NO! Did I want to keep him in office? Triple HELL NO! But did I want to see a walking Napoleon Complex replaced with an incompetent numbskull who wouldn't know the Bill of Rights if it bit him in the ass...? Not so much, really.
In conversations with people I know personally, and whom I trust implicitly, Reince frankly admitted that Johnson was an inferior candidate...that it was his money that recommended him so highly and made him "right" to replace Feingold. Let that sink in for a moment... Reince didn't give a rat's patoot about Wisconsin voters or who could best represent them. He knew he was passing off seriously flawed goods. Johnson simply had enough money to make Reince's dreams of escaping Wisconsin a plausible reality.
Understanding after the September primary that bobble-headed Ronny would likely be my next senator, I had hopes that perhaps he might seek out DeMint as some kind of mentor when he finally got to Washington...that he would maybe, just maybe, allow some real conservative principles and knowledge to seep deep into that vapid brain of his. In short, I hoped he would open himself to valuable education and development.
Well, yes, of course... It was a long shot. I mean, the establishment put him on the ballot and got him elected. The establishment, consequently, owns him. But you can't stop a girl from throwing a penny into a wishing well as a desperate last hope, now, can you...? From praying fervently that a pig's ear could magically be transformed into a silk purse...?
Today stark reality once again snaps me out of futile reverie. Johnson is not a caterpillar bound for personal transformation. He's just another common grub.
Johnson's rejection of the Senate Tea Party Caucus will come as no surprise to Wisconsin's conservative grassroots. But his true colors are certainly beginning to bleed through even earlier than I or my colleagues imagined they might...
I hope Johnson doesn't think anyone is still fooled by that "sprang from the tea party" line anymore. If he's smart, he'll drop it from prepared statements. It's becoming an insult to people's intelligence.