'Anger' Driving 'Fringe' Tea Party Movement
Kate Zernike reported from Holland, Pa., for Friday's front-page profile of a new strategy for the Tea Party phenomenon, "In Power Push, Movement Sees Base in G.O.P."
The Tea Party movement ignited a year ago, fueled by anti-establishment anger. Now, Tea Party activists are trying to take over the establishment, ground up.
Across the country, they are signing up to be Republican precinct leaders, a position so low-level that it often remains vacant, but which comes with the ability to vote for the party executives who endorse candidates, approve platforms and decide where the party spends money.
A new group called the National Precinct Alliance says it has a coordinator in nearly every state to recruit Tea Party activists to fill the positions and has already swelled the number of like-minded members in Republican Party committees in Arizona and Nevada. Its mantra is this: take the precinct, take the state, take the party - and force it to nominate conservatives rather than people they see as liberals in Republican clothing.
Zernike, notorious for providing cover fire for John Kerry years after he lost the battle with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, gets it half right in her description of the movement, but can't resist bringing up the "extreme" end of the movement:
The Tea Party movement, named after the original tax revolt in 1773, might be better described as a diverse, rambunctious and Internet-connected network of groups, powered by grass-roots anxiety about the economy, bailouts and increasing government involvement in health care. At one extreme are militia members who have shown up at meetings wearing guns and suggesting that institutions like the Federal Reserve be eliminated. At the other are those like Ms. Przybylski, who describes herself as "just a stay-at-home mom" who became agitated about the federal stimulus package.
And if the Democrats are big-government socialists, the Republicans, in the Tea Party mind, are enablers.
The Times rarely if ever talked of the "extremes" of the anti-war left, like those who shouted "No Blood for Oil!" or accused Bush of having advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks.
Republican leaders have been trying to harness the Tea Party energy - Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, recently called the Tea Parties "a revelatory moment."
"It puts in stark relief where the American people are, how they feel and what they feel," Mr. Steele said. "It's important for our party to appreciate and understand that so we can move toward it, and embrace it."
Not all Republicans agree. Some say the party needs to broaden its reach, not cater to the fringe.
Reporter Shaila Dewan also called the Tea Party movement an "angry fringe" in a November 29 story.