The next round in the battle between now old-line Movement Conservatives (like Boehner, McConnell, and yes, Steve Schmidt) and the Tea Party (Americans for Prosperity) types has started. In the video below, Schmidt lays down a marker, trying to wrest party control from the billionaires and Americans For Prosperity financiers who now control the Republican levers of power.
Listen carefully. He doesn’t name the billionaires, but calls out their surrogates — the Rush Limbaughs and Donald Trumps of the world — instead. In modern Republican-speak, “Limbaugh” is code for David Koch’s AFP. Here’s an excerpt of Schmidt talking about shutting down Limbaugh and Trump:
“It’s gotta be shut down, it needs to be repudiated by serious leaders in the party. Look, conservatism is a serious governing philosophy…. Conservatism shouldn’t be defined by fidelity to all of these crazy statements by talk-radio personalities, or by reality show hosts who go out and say outrageous things. And when you have these reality show hosts, like Donald Trump, who are hanging around with our presidential candidates, they are, by virtue of that, given some platform for seriousness, and they call for “revolution” on their Twitter accounts, after the president has been legitimately re-elected by the American people. It’s gotta be shut down by serious leaders in the Republican party.”
This battle will be one to watch. The “leaders” Schmidt is talking about are the billionaires themselves, who fund all or almost all Tea Party candidates. In effect, he’s asking the coup to stop being the coup. And I think he knows exactly what he’s asking for, and whom he’s asking it of. Sounds like a marker to me.
I said in an earlier interview that I thought the takeover of the R party was about 60% complete. Watch in the weeks and months ahead, as the forces move into the field to vie for that last 40%. It will be interesting, for example, to see where Chris Christie stands, now that people like Schmidt are drawing lines in the sand. Fascinating stuff.
UPDATE: And just as we’re about to go to press with this piece, the other side responds. Note the name “Tea Party Patriots” as source for the quotes; more on them below. Also note that the publishing site is breitbart.com (h/t Digby):
The Tea Party Patriots declared war on the Republican establishment after moderate establishment Republican Mitt Romney’s loss to President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Jenny Beth Martin, National Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, criticized the Republican Party for hand-picking a Beltway elite candidate who did not campaign forcefully on America’s founding principles and said the “presidential loss is unequivocally on them.”
“For those of us who believe that America, as founded, is the greatest country in the history of the world – a ‘Shining city upon a hill’ – we wanted someone who would fight for us,” Martin said. … Instead, Martin lamented, “what we got was a weak moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment wing of the Republican Party.”
“While it might take longer to restore America’s founding principles with President Obama back in office, we are not going away,” Martin said. “With the catastrophic loss of the Republican elite’s hand-picked candidate – the tea party is the last best hope America has to restore America’s founding principles.”
The “Tea Party Patriots” are not a grassroots organization. They are a heavily-financed billionaire-funded organization (but you can’t know the names). This is Wikipedia, my emphasis and paragraphing:
The organization was founded by Jenny Beth Martin, Mark Meckler, and Amy Kremer in March 2009. Tea Party Patriots was a co-sponsor of the 9/12 March on Washington, but refused to participate in the National Tea Party Convention. Tea Party Patriots is most notable for organizing citizen opposition at the healthcare town hall meetings of 2009, as well as various other anti-government run health care protests.
In September 2010 the group announced it had received a $1,000,000 donation from an anonymous donor. The money was distributed to its affiliated groups and must be spent by Election Day, though it could not be used to directly support any candidate. In 2012, the group along with the Southern Republican Leadership Conference organized a presidential debate that aired on CNN. …
Rolling Stone and Talking Points Memo have alleged that the organization is run with the help of Freedomworks, a conservative nonprofit led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Tea Party Patriots denies this claim.
A 2011 investigation by the magazine Mother Jones alleged that the Tea Party Patriots organization was using its 501(c)(4) status to avoid disclosing its expenditures both to the IRS and to local contributors. The magazine reported that when local Tea Party groups pressed for more details on the group’s expenses, they were removed from the umbrella organization and threatened with legal action.
Freedomworks is itself a billionaire front group, funded by corps like Verizon and individual donors. Note that Tea Party Patriots also got a sweet million dollars in a single individual donation. This is an org with angels; not for the down-and-struggling whites who vote “tea party” in Tennessee.
So with that in mind, here’s how to read the breitbart.com piece above (my obvious changes):
The [billionaires who finance the] Tea Party Patriots [surrogate organization] declared war on the Republican establishment after moderate establishment Republican Mitt Romney’s loss to President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Jenny Beth Martin, [who draws a large salary from the billionaires who finance the] Tea Party Patriots, criticized the Republican Party for hand-picking a Beltway elite candidate who did not campaign forcefully on America’s founding principles and said the “presidential loss is unequivocally on them.”
“For those of us who believe [in] America, as founded, … we wanted someone who would fight for [the rightwing billionaire aristocracy and its inherent right to rule],” Martin said. … Instead, Martin lamented, “what [the billionaries] got was a weak moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment wing of the Republican Party.”
“While it might take longer to restore America’s founding principles with President Obama back in office, [the billionaires who are financing the modern Republican Party] are not going away,” Martin said. “With the catastrophic loss of the Republican elite’s hand-picked candidate – the [billionaire coalition who finance the so-called] tea party is the last best hope America has to [guarantee our continued hegemony].”
Bottom line — The billionaires are making their counter-move, and doing it now. Battle joined, Mr. Schmidt.
Folks, if you don’t see the billionaire sports owners, you don’t see the union-busting game. If you don’t see the hands moving the chess pieces, you don’t see the players, just the rooks and kings who appear to have wills of their own. And if you don’t see the Republican billionaires, you don’t see the party as a whole, just the minions as they move around and speak.
It’s the billionaires vs. the Schmidts and the Frums (more at the link). That’s the game to watch in the next six months. (By the way, my money’s on Money to sweep almost every time. But I guess we’ll see, won’t we.)
Did you notice, by the way, that Norquist is now in the billionaire camp? (Click the link above, then click through to the caption. He speaks at — i.e., milks money from — AFP events.) If you did catch that, you’ll be one of the few, even among the media, even among the left media.
And since David Koch now says taxes-for-grand-bargain is a good enough deal for him, you can watch knowingly as Norquist fall in line with the tax-raising, safety-net-killing deal.
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