The "Tea Party" Label Doesn't Matter

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 29 2011 1:26 PM

The "Tea Party" Label Doesn't Matter

Shannon Travis writes what must be the millionth story on this theme.

Fiery Republicans known as the Tea Party Caucus are at the center of the debate over which version of a plan - if any - to cut spending and raise the debt limit should be adopted in Congress.

Are they? Sort of! The Tea Party Caucus was set up by Michele Bachmann in 2010 but it wasn't taken terribly seriously by activists -- less so after Reid Wilson reported that its members had requested a total $100 billion of earmarks. It looked like a way for Tea Party members to declare their pride, and, conveniently enough, a way for other members to Tea-wash themselves. For example, look at the list of 60 members. How many of them are no firm no votes? Seven. Seven of eighteen firm no votes. Meanwhile, Caucuser Allen West said he'd "drive the car" to pass the Boehner bill before it was even tweaked. Being a Republican from South Carolina is a far better indicator of Boehner plan opposition than being part of this caucus.

So what's the value of being seen as "Tea Party"? It's pretty obvious, and gets more obvious when you realize how little the media cross-checks this stuff. Marco Rubio, you'll recall, won the 2010 GOP primary for U.S. Senate by aligning himself with conservatives against Charlie Crist. The media branded him a "Tea Party" candidate; he didn't deny it. And it was true that Tea Parties backed him. But where is he in the Boehner plan wars? Pretty quiet. Here's his tweetstream since the fight began.

Screen shot 2011-07-29 at 12.56.48 PM

He supports Cut, Cap, and Balance, but he's not joining Rand Paul et al in trying to break the Boehner plan. And basically no one cares! He's still got clout that Mitt Romney tries to tap into when he's listing his possible VP candidates.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 19 2014 1:56 PM Scotland’s Attack on the Status Quo Expect more political earthquakes across Europe.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Never Remember Anything
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Movies
Sept. 19 2014 2:06 PM The Guest and Fort Bliss How do we tell the stories of soldiers returning home from war?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.