Tea Party Express: Is this traveling one-woman show Palin’s dry run?

It’s a big and slick production, as grassroots efforts go. Deluxe motor coaches glide into town, adorned on their sides with huge renderings of the United States Constitution.  Musicians belt out songs about tax hikes and bailouts. They are very capable performers.  A new-media crew captures the action, dangling a camera above the crowd from a boom crane suitable for a Hollywood studio.

TPE's rolling media crew huddles over the set-up of the boom crane

The star of the show shines as brightly as the gleaming vehicle that will carry her from town to town on the cross-country tour of the Tea Party Express. Sarah Palin is, indeed, a rock star, drawing a crowd of a thousand or so to a mostly-vacant shopping complex on a damp, chilly morning in Reno.

And yet, there’s a significant void in the program. It’s two weeks until election day, but the event features not a single syllable from any candidate for any office. The lineup – besides Palin – is as follows: A little-known author, a mother-turned-activist, several singers, a local talk radio host, a red-meat tossing former member of the U.S. Navy, a home-grown Tea Party organizer from Sparks, and a former California state assemblyman who manages a political action committee.

Palin speaks to Reno. Great shoes, but decidedly unpresidential.

This is a 30-city showcase for the star, with a completely unmemorable supporting cast.  It is, one can speculate, the experiment that will determine whether Palin is simply making waves as a private citizen —  her stated goal when she stepped down from her post as the governor of Alaska — or whether she is to be taken seriously as a contender for the GOP presidential nomination.

There are legal and practical factors keeping other stars off the stage. Federal campaign finance law doesn’t allow political action committees to coordinate activities with candidates for federal office. While the Tea Party Express has named Harry Reid as its number-one target, his challenger, Sharron Angle, can’t be present as it rallies for her on her own stomping grounds.

Attorneys can disagree about whether a joint appearance is absolutely prohibited, but Angle is taking a strict interpretation, and you can call it an abundance of caution if you wish.  It’s possible that other candidates will dare to show up in cities where the race is not so razor close.

Congressman Dean Heller is on hand, but keeps a low profile, waving when his name is called from the stage by a local warm-up speaker, then making a hasty retreat back to the sidelines.

The most straightforward message of the day

Down-ballot Republican hopefuls are plentiful in the audience, but they are not officially recognized.  This is a different issue. To allow one of them to speak would necessitate inviting all of them to speak, or else showing favoritism. None of them speak, therefore.

And so, here it is, an oddly outsized political rally, minus the politicians.  There is an endless pre-game show, with songs,  speeches, slogans, and some overtly nasty taunts at the “liberal media,” who are perched on a platform fifty yards from the stage, and who, by the way, include Carl Cameron from Fox News.

Three busloads of national media are present.  Some hail from farther afield than New York or Washington, with reporters instructing crewmates in German, and other, less discernable languages.

At last, Sarah Palin takes the stage. She speaks of the power of the American people, who, she says, are close to throwing off the yoke of Obama-Reid-Pelosi government.

Various attendance figures were reported, but it probably pushed 1,000

“You’re winning, Joe Sixpack!” she shouts, and gets an appreciative response.

Palin is fluent in the language of inspirational partisanship. She encourages the faithful to work until they are exhausted to ensure victory. She wraps it up by throwing some more dirt on the media, which has failed to properly serve as objective referee, she says. The crowd roars approvingly, and she delivers an additional punch, concluding that lower ratings and a ravaged industry are the price of biased reportage for its practitioners.

On to Elko, and 29 other cities, dragging the liberal media along for the ride.

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One Comment on “Tea Party Express: Is this traveling one-woman show Palin’s dry run?”

  1. dick burns Says:

    Of course she is going to run for President, her ego won’t allow her not to. Just like a pregnant teenage daughter, a special needs child, and scandal aplenty, including financial mismanagement in Wasilla wasn’t enough to make her hestitate to jump in as a VP nominee. And wasn’t it a little freaky, all the assaults on the media? Of course you have to de-legitimize them if you expect anyone to believe the snake oil you’re selling. I don’t know if that’s from Saul Alinsky’s book or Goebels.


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