The tea party celebrates its fifth anniversary Thursday, essentially marking some 1,826 days since the grass roots movement spontaneously emerged to become a political and cultural force to be reckoned with, driven by a call for fiscal sanity and fueled by traditional American values.
"For the past five years, Americans from all walks of life unified under the principles of liberty and freedom, and the belief that we are taxed enough already," Rep. Michele Bachmann tells Inside the Beltway.
"The tea party movement transcends party politics and has successfully shifted the national conversation from bailouts and pork projects to the Constitution and limited government. There is still much work to be done, but the tea party's influence has only begun," the Minnesota Republican said.
She is among the heavy hitters assembling for a day-long celebration and underscoring of all things tea party, staged at a grand hotel two blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
On the roster with Mrs. Bachmann: Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas, plus Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Steve King of Iowa, Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Matt Salmon of Arizona.
Talk radio kingpin Mark Levin is a featured speaker, along with the indefatigable Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, which has organized the event. Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley will also be at the podium.
"Five years ago, American politics — as dominated by the Democratic Party and the big government Republican Party — was intellectually bankrupt. Fortunately, a renewed philosophy centered on elegant reductionism began to develop, just as it did under Reagan in the 1970s," Mr. Shirley tells the Beltway.
"The rise of the tea party movement is the most important development in politics since the advent of the Reagan Democrat. Today, the American tea party represents the intellectualism of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan. These men believed in the citizenry and not the state," says Mr. Shirley, who is also a visiting Reagan Scholar at Eureka College.
"The intellectuals of the American tea party don't confuse sophistication with intellectualism. They know better even if the elites do not. The tea party also knows that it is impractical, indeed anti-intellectual, to try to govern this vast and diverse country from one corrupt city by the Potomac River."
"How's your soul doing?"
— Glenn Beck to Sen. Ted Cruz, in a BlazeTV interview Wednesday.
"My soul is at peace. I'm doing great, Glenn. There is not a day that I don't jump out of bed."
— the Texas Republican's reply.
MR. CHRISTIE TEES UP
Some Democrats still must be worried that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a threat to their political prowess. When Mr. Christie went to Chicago for a public appearance two weeks ago, prominent Democrats — including former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Illinois Senate president John Cullerton — staged their own press conference, to announce that Mr. Christie was "lying about Bridgegate."
As Mr. Christie heads to Boston on Thursday for a Republican Governors Association fundraiser with Mitt Romney, the Dems are also on the move. Reps. Mike Capuano of Massachusetts and Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, plus Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman Tom McGee have called a press conference Thursday to "preview" the event. They insist Mr. Christie "continues to be mired by scandal" and is guilty of "failed leadership."
He, in turn, has returned to tough talk, and business as usual.
"I'm not going to worry about politics anymore, everybody," Mr. Christie said at a town hall meeting on Wednesday. "This is it. I'm on the back nine. When you're on the back nine and you don't have to worry about playing another nine, your only obligation is to tell people the truth."
THE RAPID REPUBLICANS
The newly-designated "Director of Rapid Response" is proof that the increasingly nimble Republican National Committee is readying, if not ready, to rumble. GOP veteran strategist Jahan Wilcox is the rapid guy, tasked with discovering "a wealth of opportunities against 2014 Democrats and using our research to frame the 2016 presidential debate," says a committee spokeswoman.
No doubt Mr. Wilcox will have much to do with another new GOP entity — the "Para Bellum Labs," the committee's new digital and data department, which is awash with data both damning and delightful. Para Bellum, incidentally, means "prepare for war" in Latin.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Ah, the poor, poignant penny. The call to do away with the one-cent coin continues, as do the cries to keep it.
"In the controversy about whether the U.S. penny should stay or go, most women want pennies to stick around, but men want to get rid of them, reports an Investor Pulse survey, that reveals 57 percent of the ladies believe the U.S. should keep the penny, while 62 percent of men think we should get rid of it. Entirely. Overall, 53 percent of Americans think the U.S. should be penny-free.
In the meantime, a mere 14 percent think the U.S. should get rid of dollar bills, but again there's division between the sexes. Twenty percent of men say they can do without the single bill, compared to 6 percent of women. The poll of 1,200 investors was conducted throughout February by Millionaire Corner, an online investing resource.
'AT THIS REMARKABLE MOMENT'
A new report from the Kremlin-based news organization Rossiyskaya Gazeta now suggests that the U.S. was somehow behind the disappearance of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, even as dramatic news coverage continues to arrive from the region. Amid the confusion, has the White House spelled out where America stands on this? Why yes. It has.
"We urge outside actors in the region to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, end provocative rhetoric and actions, support democratically established transitional governing structures, and use their influence in support of unity, peace and an inclusive path forward. We remind all governments of their political commitments to transparency about military activities under the Vienna Document 2011, and other OSCE obligations designed to ensure security and peace in the Euro-Atlantic region," deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.
"The United States stands with the Ukrainian people at this remarkable moment, and we will do all we can to help them build the strong, sovereign and democratic country they so richly deserve," Mr. Earnest concluded.
POLL DU JOUR
• 82 percent of Democrats say Hillary Rodham Clinton should run for president in 2016; 5 percent said they didn't "know enough" about her to respond.
• 42 percent of Democrats say Vice President Joseph R. Biden should run; 15 percent didn't know enough about him to respond.
• 41 percent of Republicans say Jeb Bush should run for president in 2016; 30 percent said they didn't know enough about the former Florida governor to respond.
• 39 percent of Republicans say Sen. Rand Paul should run; 39 percent said they didn't know enough about him to respond.
• 32 percent of Republicans say Sen. Marco Rubio should run; 51 percent said they didn't know enough about him to respond.
• 31 percent of Republicans say Gov. Chris Christie should run; 26 percent said they didn't know enough about him to respond.
• 24 percent of Republicans say Sen. Ted Cruz should run; 59 percent said they didn't know enough about him to respond.
Source: A CBS News poll of 1,644 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 19-23.
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