Is the Tea Party Really Angry About a Deal?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 27 2011 1:37 PM

Is the Tea Party Really Angry About a Deal?

The headline is delicious:

Tea Party Leader: ‘Maybe We Should See About a New Speaker’
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Obviously, we can't poll every Tea Party activist about what they think of a possible debt compromise. But I posed these questions to some activists at the just-concluded Tea Party "Hold the Line" rally on the hill. Would they back primary challenges to Republicans who supported a debt deal along the line of Boehner's?

"No, I don't think so," said D.C. activist Melissa Ortiz, one of the organizers.

"If my congressman votes for this, he'll probably hear from me," said Dave Van Allen, an activist who printed 50 "Hold the Line" T-shirts for the rally. But he wouldn't say he'd back a primary against that congressman. Would he replace Speaker Boehner? "He's done a good job so far," shrugged Van Allen, "but I don't really trust any of the senior congressmen. I trust the freshmen."

Also significant, it seemed to me: Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., a camera-ready Tea Party freshman who opposes the deal, told the small crowd to at least credit Boehner and Cantor for their work so far. "Can you imagine being in that room and negotiating?" he asked rhetorically. Partisanship is, at the moment, balming the wounds.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.