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Inside the Beltway
IT'S BEEN BREWING
Democrats love to dream that the "tea party" - in all its inconvenient truth - will suffer a "Sarah Palin meltdown," to use this week's partisan patois of choice. Well, dream on. The night is young, and the tea party is just getting started, grass roots intact and chins resolute. Mrs. Palin, in fact, launches the 30-city Tea Party Express "Liberty at the Ballot Box" tour in Reno, Nev. on Monday; the crosscountry tour ends election eve in Concord, N.H.
"The tea party movement has fought long and hard to prepare for Nov. 2. All the energy is on our side now. We have captured the imagination and spirit of America," spokesman Levi Russell tells Inside the Beltway.
While journalists pine to prove that the tea party is either a temporary sideshow or the mere byproduct of a conservative public relations shop, pollsters are seriously parsing tea partiers. They are "Super Republicans," says a Bloomberg News survey that concludes the movement is no "fringe," but is fueling the party's momentum, with 78 percent backing the Republican Party as the midterms loom.
"These Super Republicans are more energized than other likely voters and more apt to view this election as exceptionally important," the survey says. Nine-out-of-10 say the movement stands for lower taxes, smaller government and personal responsibility, almost two-thirds say government should be based on Christian principles while 82 percent back the Republican "Pledge to America."
And those rumored schisms? There's unity among the tribes. Uber-conservative Richard Viguerie says he's already planning an election night victory party. His fellow celebrants include Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, Family Research Council Director Tony Perkins and Tea Party Patriots founders Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler.
What about staying power? A Sam Adams Alliance survey of "establishment conservatives" finds that a quarter say the tea party movement will be here "indefinitely," with 16 percent saying it will last 20 years, 44 percent through the 2012 presidential elections and 15 percent through the midterms.
Yes, maybe it's just a technicality. But maybe it's evidence that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are staging a brash publicity stunt; Comedy Central's fake newsmen claim they'll host parody political rallies on the National Mall on Oct. 30. But are they? Really? The gleeful pair have taken advantage of much left-leaning press for their buzz. They savor the idea of mocking Glenn Beck's recent well-attended "Restoring Honor" rally. Is it all illusion? Only the National Park Service - the ultimate gatekeeper for events staged on the more hallowed grounds of Washington - knows for sure.
"No one should read anything into this, but no, we have not issued a final permit to this group yet. It is typical, it is commonplace for the National Park Service not to issue a final permit for such activities until two or three days before that event is scheduled.
"The questions have to be answered, the logistics and conditions taken care of, we have to have it settled and understood," says Park Service spokesman Bill Line. "The conversations are still ongoing, the negotiations are continuing."
"You have the right to remain silent. So please shut up."
Bumper sticker spotted near Bonita Springs, Fla.
ONE SCARY MOSAIC
"Reflecting today's fragmented news landscape, about half of the public offers no specific answer when asked to name the journalist or newsperson they most admire. No journalist is named by more than 5 percent of the public in response to an open-ended question." (The Pew Research Center News Interest Index).
NOW HEAR THIS
The feisty but fact-finding Media Research Center is determined to point out the biased frailties of the really big news mongers. On Sunday, Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative press watchdog, will lead protests outside the Manhattan headquarters of the New York Times and NBC News while four big "billboard trucks" circle the streets, emblazoned with the motto "Stop the liberal bias: Tell the truth." Follow their efforts here: www.tellthetruth2010.org. But will all those highfalutin journalists bother to look out the window?
"For decades the old media have spun the news and hidden reality from the public. Now, that reality is spinning around them, block after block. I imagine they'll continue to plug their ears and pretend nothing disagreeable is happening," muses Business and Media Institute analyst Dan Gainor.
POLL DU JOUR
- 81 percent of Americans say they love their country "very much."
- 87 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Democrats agree.
- 75 percent of Americans overall are worried about the future of the country.
- 84 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats agree.
- 43 percent of Americans overall would rather be in a street demonstration of conservative protesters, 28 percent would rather be among liberal protesters.
- 69 percent of Republicans would pick the conservatives, 11 percent the liberals.
- 24 percent of Democrats would pick the conservatives, 51 percent would pick the liberals.
Source: A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of 1,200 registered voters conducted Oct. 11 to 13.
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About the Author
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