Kaine supported his thesis by referring to the recent Republican defeat in the special congressional election in New York’s 23rd District. In that race, Democrat Bill Owen bested his Republican rival, Dede Scozzafava, as well as the Conservative Party challenger, Doug Hoffman. Hoffman, a darling of Tea Party activists, failed to win support from Scozzafava, thus surrendering the district to the Democratic Party for the first time in over 100 years.
Although speaking at an ostensibly academic forum, there can be little doubt that Kaine and his cohorts exult at the prospect of internecine conflict enervating the Republican Party. As a matter of fact, by suggesting that Tea Party participants are the source of the schism, Kaine cleverly foments dissension and erects windmills against which less informed conservatives might waste time tilting.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) also addressed the conference as co-keynote speaker. As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cornyn rebuts Kaine’s assertions of the damage being done to the GOP by Tea Party faithful, but not as forcefully as many Republicans would have liked. The main focus of Cornyn’s speech was to promote a reinvigorated primary process that will result in stronger Republican candidates percolating to the surface from among the ranks of local party membership.
Distressingly for Republicans craving a return to conservatism on the part of party leadership, Cornyn all but ignored the shots Kaine took at those active in the Tea Party movement (Kaine actually called it the “Tea Bag Party”). He wanly disregarded the possibility that conservatives might hijack the GOP and surrender the middle ground to slavering Democrats just waiting to gobble up the meaty middle.
What Kaine and Cornyn seem to misunderstand (whether purposefully or not, we can’t say) is that the potency of the Tea Party movement does not siphon strength from the Republican Party for it is not an element of that party or the Democratic Party. The patriotic men and women that donate precious time and hard-earned money to the cause of freedom, whether in the Tea Party movement or in any other patriotic group, are for the most part unconcerned with the diminishing vitality of any national party whose lips always part in praise of republican principles, but whose hearts have for many, many years been so very far from them.
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