Who controls the Tea Party?

Several months ago, when the Tea Party crusade hit its stride with a Kentucky primary win by Rand Paul to succeed retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R), the left went out of its way to link Paul as the puppet behind a larger Republican machine. Democrat operatives quickly labeled Paul and his style of politics as wholly indicative of what the GOP had become.
 
As predicted, Republicans had reverted to their old-school style of hate politics, the storyline went, making this November a clear choice between “policies of the past” versus the future.
 
The political cheap shot was an easy one for the likes of Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine. The narrative they could build around Paul and other Tea Party activists fit nicely into the party’s attacks, and gave them something to shoot at after being pummeled for months by a sluggish recovery and missteps of their own.
 
To Democrats and the media, the GOP had let the wingnuts take over. And so long as they were winning, Republican leaders were all too eager to sit back and watch.
 
But then Christine O’Donnell happened. From out of nowhere, this recycled candidate jumped up and snatched victory from the jaws of establishment Republican Rep. Mike Castle (Del.). What a conundrum that created.
 
Now all of a sudden, Republicans had taken a big step away from winning control of the Senate. Clearly this wasn’t in the party’s plan, but up until now, everyone was saying the GOP was in control of the Tea Party.
 
Without missing a beat or even noting their own double-mindedness, pundits and columnists took to warning the country that Republicans had no control of the Tea Party, and such irresponsible behavior threatened to wreak havoc on our way of life (whatever that meant). As Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote on Sept. 14, “The Republicans thought they had the rampaging Tea Party under control. Apparently the Tea Party begs to differ.”
 
So which is it? Does the Republican Party control the Tea Party or doesn’t it? Is the Tea Party stationed off First Street in the RNC headquarters or not?


Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside.