Before I get too far into this post, while I don’t believe that Rahm Emanuel is serving the Obama White House well as Chief of Staff, I do think he’s brilliant and would excel in other roles for the team — but that is not the purpose of this post.
Given current trends in the country, I can easily imagine “conspiracy theorists” (not me) in the future looking back in history at the Tea Party movement as having been a Rahm Emanuel creation. That would have been, in retrospect, sheer political genius.
After all, looking back in time, one would see that the Tea Partiers were hatched during Obama’s time. They successfully hijacked the Republican Party and executed or exiled the best Republican talent. And then, when folks woke to their senses, the Republican Party will have imploded into national irrelevance.
Of course, Rahm did not create the Tea Party movement — but it is taking pressure off of the Obama administration on a lot of fronts. Obama can achieve nothing and still look like a better option in 2012 than what a 21st century network of pugnacious know-nothings looks like.
Jacob Heilbrunn, author of They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons captures this in an LA Times oped he’s done:
The job of the GOP is to form coalitions with the tea partyers, they say, or go out of business. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele has been playing footsie with the tea partyers, discussing the November election with about 30 of their leaders Tuesday.
Whether the GOP can permanently harness the energies of the tea party, however, is another matter. The insurgent party may well drive the GOP so far to the right that it proves something of an albatross in November. It’s also hard to see how the GOP could deliver on the tea party’s demand for cutting federal entitlement programs, which is political suicide. Indeed, Republicans might well prove as ineffectual as Democrats in attacking the deficit, which they compiled in the first place during the Bush presidency.
No doubt third parties such as the Know-Nothings have historically enjoyed a short life span in America. Historian Richard Hofstadter famously observed, “Third parties are like bees: Once they have stung, they die.” But the tea party may wield a very potent stinger. Its fortunes likely will be bolstered by the towering federal budget deficits that the administration is accruing.
According to conservative firebrand Patrick Buchanan: “Tea partiers now play the role of Red Army commissars who sat at machine guns behind their own troops to shoot down any soldier who retreated or ran. Republicans who sign on to tax hikes cannot go home again.”
As conservative veterans urge the GOP to reclaim the small-government mantle, then, the question hovering over them is whether they will successfully harness the volatile insurgency led by the tea party, or will they themselves be swept aside as part of regime change? It would be no small irony if they were displaced by the very kind of insurrectionist spirit they embodied 50 years ago in Connecticut.
I’ve helped launch a growing “surge of concern” about Rahm Emanuel and others who may be great patriots and loyal to President Obama but who are badly undermining him and the success of his presidency.
But seriously, Rahm, if you did launch the Tea Partiers, or if Axe or Valerie or Gibbs did — call me. Promise to take off the heat and not tell anyone if you got these folks going.
— Steve Clemons