Tea Party vs. GOP: The showdown

That said, more interesting than what happens at the convention this week will be what happens in the coming months as we see the Tea Parties and the Republican Party build a successful relationship before this fall's midterm elections. Or not.
 
With a byline out of Honolulu last weekend, a story in The Washington Post about how the Republican Party is attempting to harness Tea Party anger, woo the activists and merge their goals made me laugh so hard I thought I would share it with anyone outside of D.C. who may have missed it.
 
Warning to Tea Partiers: This is NOT a criticism of the Tea Party. Drink some tea and try not to bombard me with angry e-mails before reading below. In the story, Philip Rucker describes many highlights from the winter retreat the Republican National Committee held in Hawaii. It was a controversial choice of location — some attendees felt sheepish about basking in the balmy ocean breezes during an economic crisis. But RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who was seen sporting a lei and wearing the resort-uniform of the short-sleeved shirt even while conducting business, was unbowed.
 
Steele's inspiration to the gathered GOPers is worth quoting: "The Democrats are daring the American people to stop them. They are playing with fire, and they are going to get burned. And we are going to help burn them," Steele said, apparently to loud applause. Steele was just getting started, and seeing an opportunity to defend his Hawaii choice, thundered: "We began in the back yard of President Obama, where he was born. We will end the year in Illinois taking his Senate seat ... today, the old map is being thrown out. We're going to drop it in the Pacific Ocean on our way home."
 
Steele goes out of his way to praise the Tea Party movement and claims he is a "grass roots-er," and a Tea Partier himself. But not all Republicans are so enthusiastic. In the
Post piece Katon Dawson of South Carolina, whose dreams of becoming RNC chairman himself last year were dashed by his membership in a whites-only country club, said, "The only difference between us and those protesters is we dress a little bit better." Ouch.
 
The irony continues. The very un-Hawaiian Dick Armey, who with his FreedomWorks group has become a de facto Tea Party leader, was dispatched, according to this report, as some sort of "envoy" to make peace between the factions of Tea and GOP. He said the Republican Party has to earn the support of the Tea Party after years of bad behavior, to prove it has "rehabilitated." Armey, who served for years in the House of Representatives and ultimately as majority leader, apparently has left the GOP. As he stated, "The Republican Party is on probation with us. We still have our hurt and our disappointments for their malfeasance of years not too recent, but we know they are capable of representing the broad center of American politics and political values which is freedom and fiscal responsibility." Guess that malfeasance didn't happen under Armey's tenure.
 
Oh, the hurt. Can this be repaired by November?
 

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