Tea Party Caucus Membership Actually Shrinks with Bachmann at Helm
The caucus held its first meeting of the 112th Congress Monday with around 30 members in attendance, including 11 freshmen.
Fewer than a dozen Republican freshmen have joined the House Tea Party Caucus, so far — a relatively anemic number given the size of the class and the fact that many were helped to victory in 2010 by Tea Party activists.
While Bachmann said she expects the number of lawmakers in the caucus to increase, the list starts at just 50 members, fewer than the 52 House Republicans who were members of the caucus in the 111th Congress.
That is pretty anemic! In fact, it means that Tea Party Caucus ranks have actually diminished under the "leadership" of Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06), which is really remarkable given the constant fluffing the Teabagger contingent gets from the national press. Seriously, who would have guessed that there would be fewer members of the caucus in this Congress versus last?
Remember just last month when the traditional media declared Tea Party power (and even independence) was on the rise, and responsible for the initial defeat of the Patriot Act renewal? Well, I had my doubts about that at the time. But only now do we get a good look at the makeup of the caucus's freshman class, which we can compare to the roll call on that bill.
The 11 freshmen Republicans who have joined the caucus are Reps. Sandy Adams (Fla.), Tim Huelskamp (Kansas), Stephen Fincher (Tenn.), Vicky Hartzler (Mo.), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.), Dennis Ross (Fla.), Marlin Stutzman (Ind.), Tim Walberg (Mich.), Rich Nugent (Fla.), Joe Walsh (Ill.) and [Allen] West [Fla.].
So, can you guess which of the new Tea Party freshmen members joined the "Tea Party uprising" and voted to put the brakes on the Patriot Act renewal?
I heard a lot of shouting while I was still asking the question. Were you all yelling, "None of them!"? Why, you're exactly right! Not a single one of the official new members of the House Tea Party Caucus voted the way the traditional media pundits told you that freshman Tea Party members voted on that bill.
I think what's going on here—and this requires me to give some credit to the Tea Party—is that there are at least two kinds of House "Tea Party" types. There are people associated with the "Tea Party," who adhere for one reason or another to what are supposedly the stated principles of the movement, and there are "Teabaggers," who are really just reactionary followers and who will more or less automatically flock to the Republican leadership in the absence of any marching orders from people they perceive as having Tea Party creds.
The first group of people, it seems, are far less likely to waste any time letting Michele Bachmann glom onto their cachet. We have yet to see whether they're truly possessed of an independent streak that keeps them at arm's length from anyone seeking to co-opt them, even in the name of the "Tea Party" as Bachmann is attempting. But so far, they don't appear to be taking the bait.
As for the second group? Well, I think these may turn out to be your emptiest suits. They know this much: the "Tea Party" is supposed to be a powerful force; Michele Bachmann raises a ton of crazy-cash, and therefore; this is a club they should join in order to show how teabaggy they are.
Again, time will tell. For now, call it a hunch. But what we know right now is that Bachmann's somehow taking the hottest brand in politics and contracting its reach. And yet despite even that remarkable bit of news, the traditional media seems intent on crediting the independent spirit and strength of principles (if that's what it was) evidenced in the first Patriot Act vote to precisely the wrong bunch.
That's a hell of a narrative you've got there, crazy lady!