Monday, 8 February 2010


The other day Niko brought up the subject of Sarah Palin on one of his posts, and that reminded me that she had been involved recently in a new movement in America about which I knew little, so, as ever in these situations I turned to the expert, Danny 1st Earl of the Ozarks, whom I thank for this article:

ONE OF THE BIGGEST American political stories since 2008 has been the ongoing war for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. And the war is heating up, with the off-year Congressional elections coming in November. We are now in primary election season, when the voters determine who will be the standard bearers of the two parties. Some Republican incumbents will be facing conservative challengers in their primaries. No less a political figure than John McCain, the recent Presidential candidate, is facing a right wing Republican challenge to his bid for reelection to his Senate seat in Arizona.

The cast of characters in the Republican struggle are a colorful lot and among their number, perhaps the most colorful of all, Sarah Palin, darling of the right wing, and fresh from her gig as Governor of the Arctic tundra. She now sells books, collects huge fees for after dinner speeches, and is a contributor to Fox News, offering her keen intelligence and insight in the role of political commentator and analyst.

And into the fray comes the conservative “Tea Party movement,” opposing “big government,” federal budget deficits, tax increases, and Obama administration policies generally. They first came to wide national attention with protest meetings across the country on April 15, 2009, (the day when income tax returns are due.) These Tea Party protests were massively promoted by Fox News as a major political event, on a par with the second coming. Styling itself as a “grass roots” uprising, the Tea Party movement was in fact organized by very well funded conservative lobbying organizations, most notably “FreedomWorks,” an activist organization controlled by Dick Armey, former Republican House Majority Leader from Texas.

The Tea Party movement takes its name from the “Boston Tea Party” of 1773, when colonists boarded British ships in Boston Harbor and dumped cargoes of tea overboard, an iconic early event of the revolution. The Tea Party protests have certainly tapped into genuine American populist sentiments, and dissatisfaction toward Washington. But it’s also an example of how large, big money interests with self-serving agendas can manipulate relatively naïve people to serve their political ends. In any event, the label “Tea Party” has gained such considerable media currency that every right wing loon in America either self-identifies as a Tea Party protester, or is labeled as such by opponents. The term “Teabaggers” has been gleefully used by opponents to refer to the movement, and refers to a protest gesture of mailing a tea bag to the White House. (That name is now much hated by the protesters, since they discovered that it is also a salacious term describing an activity, the explanation of which would be far below the journalistic standards of Munguin’s Republic.)

There now seems to be some splits forming within the movement. We have the “Tea Party Patriots” (Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks group), but also “Tea Party Nation,” which held its inaugural national convention in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 4-6.

The convention met with immediate controversy over its high attendance fees, Sarah Palin’s $100,000 honorarium, and a for-profit financial structure with dubious intent. Several sponsors and speakers pulled out before the event, but sister Sarah delivered her address as scheduled. (The exact amount of her fee was not disclosed.) The New York Times reported that Sarah assailed Obama, urged the audience to support conservative challengers in the Republican primaries, and announced that “America is ready for another revolution.” She left the stage to chants of “Run Sarah Run!”

You will know that American politicians “run” rather than “stand” for political office. So yes, the Tea Party protesters were urging her to run for president. Only in America, God help us.

PS: Danny, Beneath the journalistic standards of Munguin's Republic....? Impossible!


  1. So the Nashville Tea Party then? Bit hard to find a harbour there I would have thought into which to throw the tea. Have to chuck it into the Mississippi instead: are they not welcome in Boston?

    If you are going to increase the consumption of tea in the US I think it would be a good idea to learn how to make it first. I can’t imagine that the Republicans (with a large R) are any better at this than any other citizen. Sorry Danny but when I was in the US I did not once get a cup of tea that was worth a nickel.

    As for Fox: well it can’t be all that bad after all they give us Family Guy. What a sham their news coverage was not more like that.

  2. Thanks for writing this Danny.

    So, it seems that this short lived political movement is already in a schism situation. That didn’t take too long. Tea Party Nation sounds like the dafter of the two... I mean who in their right mind would want to be lectured to by a woman who couldn’t even name a newspaper she read and assumed that doing business with a foreign country would be easy because one could see an isolated bit of that country from her state. My granny’s cat would make a better president than her.

    I heard a tiny bit of her speech on the BBC and she sounded quite mad, but they loved her, or maybe not. Maybe the “Run Sarah, Run” was because they had a big gun, and they preferred a moving target.

    Much more likely doncha think?

  3. I take it you havent read bit where she reads from notes she wrote on palms of her hand. Its on daily kos quite sad really.

  4. The trouble about Palin is that you have the "I wouldn't mind giving her one" voter.
    Thankfully I don't have a vote in the US.
    But I wouldn't mind giving her one...

  5. Welcome to the Republic Macvean...

    He he... I've not seen that yet. Must go and have a laugh at that.

    I'm sure that Danny will know about it.....

  6. Conan: It's a bit of a dilema. But it's solved for you because you don't live in the USA. See... simples, a bit like her really!

  7. @ macvean, at least she'll not be stuck if the autoprompter fails :-D

    Seriously though, if Americans want to vote for Palin it's up to them, most Brits who'd studied Tony Blair had Obama figured out well before he was elected.

  8. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 08, 2010 8:14 pm

    Munguin....Perhaps that "tea party" in Boston just eliminated any future hopes for good tea in America. The Brit having his "spot of tea" is a stereotype here in the traditionally coffee drinking USA.

    I agree, FOX has had some good entertainment shows. But their news operation is quite a different matter. They should be on the payroll of the RNC (Republican National Committee). Maybe they are, come to think of it.

  9. QM: Yes, I'd agree it's the USA's business who they elect. My worry is that British Prime Ministers always feel obliged to hang on ever word that an American President says. Labour or Tory.

    It was bad enough following Bush into the idiotic notion of a war on terror. Like you can ever win that. What a muppet... But imagine what Palin might do... start a war with China... or maybe Russia that she can see from her back bedroom window....

  10. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 08, 2010 8:42 pm

    Tris...Yes, there seems to be bad blood between Dick Armey's "Tea Party Patriots" and the new "Tea Party Nation" (which held the Nashville convention.) The new group is a for-profit organization founded by Judson Phillips, a Tennessee lawyer with a bankruptcy and federal tax liens in his background. So there are charges that he's simply trying to ride the popularity of the Tea Party movement for his personal gain.

    Sarah Palin's speech at Nashville is all over YouTube. I watched some of it. If it had been too soon after eating, I might have lost my lunch. Endless....and mindless....sound bites strung together to the cheers of the teabaggers in attendance. Very much like a stump speech in a political campaign. Imagine that!

    Sadly Tris, "Run Sarah Run" was not a request from the teabaggers for her to get out of town. Would that it were. That would have made a lot more sense. I definitely prefer your granny's cat. Would love to see that remarkable creature sometime....LOL.

  11. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 08, 2010 8:49 pm

    w macvean.....Yep, she was spotted looking down at her hand during the Q&A session. Then, a view of the actual notes on her hand was spotted in the video. Amazing....considering the verbal shot she took at Obama for using teleprompters.

  12. What did the note say Danny?

    S A R A H ?

  13. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 08, 2010 8:56 pm

    Conan...Sarah placed second in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant in 1984. A clip of her in the swimsuit competition is on YouTube. Gotta say, she looks pretty good.

  14. Danny... that was like 26 years ago....

  15. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 08, 2010 9:06 pm

    LOL, she seems to be able to keep her name straight without notes.

    It appears to be a list of topics to discuss. A bit hard to read, but people are trying. The words seem to be something like "energy", "tax", "lift American spirits" and "budget cuts", with "budget" apparently crossed out.

    On the positive side, it proves that she can read. What do you read Ms Palin? "I read my hand."

  16. That is a plus Danny.I worried after she didn't know the name of one single newspaper...

  17. “ONE OF THE BIGGEST American political stories since 2008 has been the ongoing war for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.”

    Absolutely, but could I suggest that this
    conflict has been raging for longer than since the republiucans lost the presidency? The battle lines between republicans like Ron Paul and ‘neo-cons’ like Bush and Sarah Palin has been a battle for decades, and isn’t new.

    “And into the fray comes the conservative “Tea Party movement,” opposing “big government,” federal budget deficits, tax increases, and Obama administration policies generally.”

    It is generally to be commended to seek a series of policies which would keep taxation low, and aim for a budget surplus.

    However I have strong doubts that the republicans [or should I say the neo-cons, being fair to real republicans like Ron Paul] could ever hope to see any of that materialise in any administration under their leadership. The republican [neo-con, being precise] track record is shocking, let us not forget it was Bush junior who begun to run up this massive current structural deficit in the if anything the “tea Party” movement is all talk and no follow through.

    “New York Times reported that Sarah assailed Obama, urged the audience to support conservative challengers in the Republican primaries, and announced that “America is ready for another revolution.” She left the stage to chants of “Run Sarah Run!”

    A couple of things here, first and foremost- if the republicans ever wish to return to power, and what is more push the democrats back significantly in both houses—they need to moderate and stop letting the loony right dominate their domestic agends. The second thing is simple, if Sarah Palin emerges as the republican nominee, my own personal preference for the Republican Party [as a UK Con Party ‘affiliate’ friend] would be totally severed. She is dangerous, nuts, ignorant, scary, but attractive [continuing the theme from last thread lol]

    But a really good read and it raises a number of very prevelent questions about the fate of the Republican Party. As if they cease to be a ‘national party’, instead opting for sectional rightwing interests they are nothing [playing on a Disraeli theme in referene to my own Con Party here in the UK].

  18. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 09, 2010 3:41 am

    Thanks Dean....for your thoughtful comments. I agree with the points you made, and can add nothing of substance. Just some random thoughts.

    The struggle for the Republican Party has indeed spanned more than a few years. And from a very broad historical perspective, it’s interesting to reflect on how The Grand Old Party has been called upon to remake itself over the course of its history. After Southern reconstruction, the then dominant party of Lincoln took up the banner of business interests in the newly industrialized nation. These “board room” Republicans ultimately saw the false dawn of Republican conservatism with Barry Goldwater in 1964, which came to fruition with Ronald Reagan in 1980. Finally, we have the history of the younger Bush and the neo-cons. The present day challenges from the right involve the concerns you noted over the federal deficits and high taxes. Today's Tea Party protesters do indeed ignore the fact that the huge structural deficits began under Bush II, and they seem to offer no solutions except their rage toward Obama.

    I had first dismissed the Tea Party movement as a combination of media hype and political manipulation by big money interests. And of course the Teabaggers might actually be nothing but DubYa’s right wing base, dressed up with a new name. Nevertheless, it seems they have tapped into some real populist anger. They are surely a minority, but in the Massachusetts Senate race for example, the independent center of the political spectrum deserted the Democrats in droves. And that made all the difference.

    As for the beautiful (LOL) Sarah, she is indeed nuts, ignorant, and scary. And positively dangerous if she were ever to be a viable presidential candidate. Her speech at Nashville has drawn some really harsh criticism from political commentators here, including some who had been favorably impressed with her (rigidly scripted) debut at the Republican nominating convention in 2008. And she is doing nothing that would normally make one a viable candidate for the presidency. It’s perhaps an indication of her native ignorance that she might actually be considering a run. I think that the presidential election process would eat her alive. And a few cheers from the passionate and angry right would not help her a bit. I really do hope I’m right about that....LOL.

    I can't venture a guess as to the fate of the modern GOP. The passion and energy is surely on the right, and the Congressional leadership seems frozen in place, with no policy other than an implacable opposition to Obama....and a determination not to anger the right wing of the party. Their geographic base is in the South....the inheritance of a total defection of the solid Democratic South in the wake of Lyndon Johnson's civil rights legislation of the 1960's. But as you observe, to remain relevant they must not become a party of narrow sectional interests.

    I suppose I'll just let them sort it all out. I need to figure out how to make the most dysfunctional political party on earth, the Democrats, a politically relevant force in American governance. It promises to be a hard task.

    Thanks again Dean for your comments.

  19. Making the Democrats the 'party of government' so to speak would be a significant step..but the Democrat splits and fallings out are legendary!

  20. I'd not dream of comment on much, given the learned, and interesting discussion going on between Dean and Danny, except to throw a (I hope) comforting thought into the air...

    ... It seems that Sarah is brilliant at getting the crowd of right wing Republicans going, filling them with fire. Clearly these are not really thinking people. With her track record for intelligent observation, no one would want her to be in negotiations with China, North Korea, Iran, or the EU. But, just imagine for a second that the thinking people of the GOP wanted her, and her popularity to run, perhaps because her popularity is their best hope of defeating the Democrats. It occurs to me that in the running, she would be obliged to debate on 2 or 3 occasions with President Obama (supposing that he stands in 2012). She would surely be totally completely and utterly demolished by the President's sharp Harvard Law School mind....

    Like him or loathe him (and I accept that many do), no one should underestimate his brilliant mind nor, to be fair, her.....erm.... ugh... her...facility to do her hair differently, wear her glasses with poise and lick her glossy lips .....and, of course, the beauty of the view from her window.

  21. That she does, and lets face it the USA does have a passionate attraction in the past for the 'rookie' candidate, the local boy taking on the 'uppity' east coast Washington boys...I worry that she may - for all her ignorance - have a strong residual support and popularity in large swaths of the USA.

    However I still wouldn't worry, after all she needs the swing states like Florida, California among some others- and lets face it, there is no way in blue blazes intellegent, thinking floating independents would pick her...

  22. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 09, 2010 8:03 pm

    Yes Dean, the love of many Americans for the rookie candidate is indeed disturbing. (Remember that nice looking newcomer down in Texas, old George Bush's boy, who looked so "presidential" and, BTW had just received all those votes for Governor.) Oh well, Palin's Nashville speech continues to draw criticism for its utter absence of substance. She is actually taken seriously by very few it seems. However, it's also suggested that mainstream Republicans are loathe to criticize her very much right now. Don't want to offend those few, but VERY passionate teabaggers who can surely be depended upon to vote.

    As for presidential debates, Obama would surely clean her clock, as he recently did some Congressional Republicans in a televised session, sort of an ad hoc American “Question Time.” Still, her reasonable showing in the one Vice Presidential debate with Joe Biden during the 2008 campaign makes one wonder. Turns out, McCain campaign insiders say, she is pretty good at memorization. The debate prep with the diva Sarah was said to be stormy, but she ended up memorizing answers to some 30 questions most likely to be asked. This covered the territory pretty well it turned out.

  23. Danny. 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 09, 2010 8:38 pm

    PS Dean: You surely have it right about the fractious Democrats, my family’s party, apparently since the “age of Jackson” in the 1830’s. And the Democrats haven’t agreed on much of anything in all that time....LOL.

    There has been a huge split in the party between the conservative Southern Democrats....(the legacy of pre Civil War slavery, and post war Reconstruction in the South)....and the liberal wing of the party. This was always a problem for the Democrats in Congress, but still OK at election time when the southern Democrats delivered the electoral votes of the southern states to the presidential ticket. In those years, no Democrats in the south would consider voting Republican, that damn party of Lincoln. But Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights program killed his party in the south as surely as it killed southern apartheid. So now the famously Democratic “solid South” is just as solidly Republican.

    So the South is mostly gone for the Democrats now, but the party structure remains rooted in the separate states, with varying interests. There remains a definite Conservative/ Liberal split. The same was once true of the Republicans too. There was the Teddy Roosevelt progressive wing of the GOP, mostly rooted in the Northeast. But it’s almost totally gone now, with the interests of the party centered in the new Solid South.

    Then there is the fact that Republicans are more inclined to accept party structure and take orders from the Whips. My intellectual Democratic friends will have none of that. The most thankless job in the world has to that of the Democratic Whips in Congress. A Democratic WHIP???....what a joke!!!

  24. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 09, 2010 8:47 pm


    You surely have it right about an encounter between Palin and Obama. There is not enough space on her hands, both arms, and anyplace else to write crib notes for THAT encounter.

    And now that I think about it, the fact that she needed a scribbled note on her hand to remember six words or so, somewhat belies the story about her being good at memorization.

  25. Yes Danny. I think her memory must be fading. Even I can remember 6 words...

    As you say, she did not bad with Joe Biden, but I'm thinking that Joe is not President Obama and clever and good man though he may be (with a strong liking for the sound of his own voice) he hasn't the razor sharp mind of Obama.

    BTW, it occurs to me that she probably did ok in that debate because he did most of the talking.....