Debra Medina -- A Tea Party Cautionary Tale

I have to admit I am something of a skeptic about the Tea Party movement for a lot of reasons. This is not to say that I’m not also a skeptic about the GOP but only to say that spontaneous eruptions of political enthusiasm through modern history have more frequently been associated with disillusionment and disengagement (see Perot, Ross) and atrocities (see French Revolution) than they have been with lasting political change.

Yesterday I pointed out an anti-Second Amendment speaker who was allowed to share center stage at the National Tea Party Convention with a birfer. The problem there, at least at first blush, was the absence of a mechanism to vet speakers.

Today, by way of Ed Morrissey at HotAir, I want to direct your attention to Texas and Debra Medina.

Last week Ms. Medina burst on the scene by way of a Rasmussen poll which indicated she would beat the Democrat candidate for governor.

This week she appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio show where she pulled the Ron Paul soft-troofer gambit of claiming she did not have enough evidence to take a side on whether or not the US government was involved in dropping the World Trade Center complex on 9/11. The show clip is below.

Now, Ms. Medina has since released a statement disavowing the position she took on the Glenn Beck show but no number of statements can retract what she said.

I’m not going to go so far as to claim Medina is a troofer. She is, I think, merely a panderer and demagogue who has seized upon the Tea Party movement as a means to achieve elective office. It is cheap, tawdry, banal, pedestrian, and a whole string of similar adjectives.

She will not be the GOP nominee but it points to a larger issue. The Tea Party movement has to decide whether it wishes to be a footnote in books on the 2010 election or a long term influence on American politics. If the objective is the latter then the multitude of Tea Party organizations can’t afford to be hijacked by troofers, birfers, or whatever. This is not an easy task given the lack of organization structure but it is critical if the movement is not to be successfully labeled fringe.

Now I know a lot of folks are going to read this as an anti-Tea Party hit piece or a reflex action by an “Old Guard” GOPer. If that is your takeaway, fine. I would hope that more would grasp the vulnerability of the Tea Parties to all manner of snake oil salesmen and the non-negotiable requirement that you have to be serious to be taken seriously. The onus is on the Tea Parties to vet people operating in their name and speaking with that imprimatur.

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