tea party faces reality by WisPolitics.com
On stage at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas on Feb. 2, Mitt Romney and his wife looked humble as they basked in the endorsement of The Donald, orange-haired birther and billionaire capitalist sage.
Trump sounded as if he were presenting the new Mr. and Mrs. America: "This is a great couple. Look at this couple." If the Romneys had brought along their four totally handsome sons, Trump might have put in a plug for eugenics.
The scene was an ironic reminder of the financial elite's success in taming the town-hall invaders, founding-father impersonators, tax haters, raucous Obamaphobes and flag-waving birthers that had coalesced as the Tea Party. Here was Trump, once the Tea Party's presidential favorite, now blessing the establishment candidate.
During the primary season, the Tea Party became infatuated with a succession of unelectables--Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain. Happily for the GOP, all three quickly sank under the weight of their manifest incompetence.
That created an opening for another Tea Party darling: the disgraced former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, with his venomous mouth and great debating skill. This corrupt Washington insider won over South Carolina conservatives by presenting himself as anti-elitist. In a state that still sports the Confederate flag in front of its Capitol, Gingrich scored points by calling Obama a "food stamp President" as well as scolding blacks for lacking a work ethic.
However, Newt's victory frightened GOP elders. Bob Dole warned that Gingrich would doom the party's chances in November. Romney's super-PAC was able to raise enough money to overwhelm Newt in the Florida primary.
Rick Santorum's Feb. 7 victories in the low-turnout, non-binding caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and in Missouri's straw poll, and his resulting surge in opinion polls, are unlikely to stop Romney. Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul will continue to divide (and thereby weaken) the anti-Romney conservatives. Romney's much greater financial and organizational resources will likely prevail in the big primaries to come, as they did in Florida.