Saving the Tea Parties from Tom Tancredo…Or From Dick Armey?
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Late in February, The Politico reported on the attempts by various self described leaders of the leaderless Tea Party Movement's attempt to "target their own fringe." The Politico quoted a Fordham University political science professor predicting a "Bill Buckley moment" referring to the much-vaunted Founder Of The Modern Conservative Movement's notorious purge of the John Birch Society from National Review.      

Who is to be purged? The Politico listed the predictable suspects: the "birthers" and "Oath Keepers". But it also included former Congressmen Tom Tancredo and sitting Congressmen Steve King—two of the leading critics of uncontrolled immigration—as potential victims. [Conservatives Target Their Own Fringe, by Keith Vogel, Politico, February 27, 2010]

The Washington Post's house-trained "conservative", Michael Gerson, the Bush speechwriter who popularized "compassionate conservatism", explained why this is so important:

"The left has a political interest in defining the broad backlash against expanded government as identical to the worst elements of the Tea Party movement—birthers and Birchers, militias and nativists, racists and conspiracy theorists, acolytes of Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Lyndon LaRouche." [Links to quotes added by unless specified]

Gerson's predictable solution:

Eventually, these theories require repudiation or else they can taint a political movement—like a little red dye turns a container of water pink. This is precisely what William F. Buckley did in the 1950s and '60s, repudiating Rand and Robert Welch of the John Birch Society, thereby creating a legitimate conservatism that could elect candidates such as Ronald Reagan. [A Primer on Political Reality, by Michael Gerson, Washington Post, February 19, 2010]

Of course this "respectable conservatism" that Buckley created conserved nothing and got us in the mess that we're in today. (Indeed Buckley, on the evidence of his one-time protégé Rick Brookhiser, was actually intriguing against Reagan prior to the 1980 election in favor of Bush or…neoconservative mouthpiece Senator Pat Moynihan (D[!])-NY) (Right Time, Right Place, p. 84.)

Personally, I think the Birther and Oath Keeper stuff is a bit silly. However, their advocates are not bad people or the enemy. They are patriots who see their country slipping away, and they can't comprehend how it happens or what they can do to stop it. And conspiracy theories and militias make a lot more sense than the certifiably insane policies pursued by the American government and promoted by the Main Stream Media.

Denouncing some Tea Partiers' misguided ideas and individuals not only diverts attention away from the real enemy—The Left. But it also helps create a precedent whereby the self appointed Popes of the movement can excommunicate whoever they like.

And that is the real agenda of these so-called house-cleanings. The fact that popular politicians like Steve King, Ron Paul, and Tom Tancredo are seamlessly and scandalously sewn together with marginal movements and ad hominems demonstrates that Gerson and company are more concerned about throwing out the baby than the bathwater.

Paul, King, and Tancredo are not fringe figures. However, they support various policies that the neoconservatives and left-libertarians who dominate the Beltway "conservative" movement don't like.

At this point, the Tea Parties are spontaneous and disorganized, and so it's hard to point to any "Bill Buckley". But former GOP House Majority leader Dick Armey is certainly vying for the post of excommunicator-in chief. His first target is not the "birthers" or militias but—Tom Tancredo.

On March 9, Armey told PBS's Charlie Rose that "I was for example not really happy to see Tom Tancredo calling himself a tea party guy." When asked why, he responded "His harsh and uncharitable and mean-spirited attitude on the immigration issue." [Dick Armey Wants Tom Tancredo Out Of His Tea Party Tent, by Andrea Nill, Wonk Room, March 10, 2010]

Then, on March 15 at the National Press Club, Armey went on to say,

"Who in the Republican Party was the genius that said that now that we have identified the fastest-growing voting demographic in America [Hispanics], let's go out and alienate them?...When I was the majority leader, I saw to it that Tom Tancredo did not get on the stage because I saw how destructive he was." [Dick Armey: Tom Tancredo is 'destructive' to Republicans on immigration, by Alex Papas, Daily Caller, March 15, 2010]

In these statements, Armey shows his true personality and agenda. He is not concerned about extremism: he is concerned about his own Open Borders ideology. His fixation on the utterly discredited mirage of a GOP Hispanic vote is beyond the reach of reason and hints at some covert, presumably donor-driven agenda. He is not a populist anti-government activist, but a career politician who brags about using his positions of power to shut down conservative opposition within his own party.

I do not need to regale readers about how Tom Tancredo fought the entire Republican establishment to lead the defeat of amnesty. However, many may need to bit of a primer on Dick Armey.

Armey was elected to Congress in 1985. While he made a few good votes early in his career, after 1990 until his retirement in 2003, there was not a single increase in legal immigration or amnesty he voted against. Armey not only opposes measures like E-Verify, he told the Cato Institute he completely opposes any screening of immigration status by employers, saying "Should we turn private employers into auxiliary border guards? I think unfunded mandates are bad enough without that." [Creating a World of Free Men, Cato Policy Report, July/August 1995]

After he retired, Armey joined on as a lobbyist for DLA Piper alongside such notables such as Patricia Higuera, the president of the California La Raza Lawyers Association.

While making millions as a lobbyist, he also paid himself a handsome $550,000 a year for his role with the left-libertarian think tank, FreedomWorks, that now is taking credit for the Tea Parties.

Armey left DLA Piper, with much fanfare because his opposition to Obamacare did not square with the millions of dollars the firm was getting paid to lobby in favor of it, but his Open Borders agenda fitted in perfectly with them. While his lobbying firm received $500,000 by the Starwood Hotels and Resorts chain to promote amnesty, Armey and FreedomWorks were attacking Tancredo as the "cheerleader of jerkiness in the immigration debate" because of his support for enforcing America's laws. [Republican blasts party's guest-worker plan, McClatchy Newspapers, September 28, 2006]

Despite Armey's claim to be leading Middle Americans, he derisively referred to working-class whites who opposed Obama during the 2008 election as the racist "Bubba vote." [Armey 'Bubba vote' to hurt Obama, by Richard Wolf and Martha T. Moore, USA Today, September 3, 2008]

The "Bubba vote" he demeans consists of the Democrats and Independents that the GOP needs to win over if it's going to become a majority party. And many of them are swarming into the Tea Party movement.

If the Tea Parties are going to accomplish anything, they need to rid itself of elitist, Establishment, politically correct, Open Borders hacks like Dick Armey.

That's one purge I'll support.

"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.

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