If you get bored with pre-Super Bowl hype today or tomorrow, you should check out media reports from the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville. The controversial (but still sold-out) event did not get off to a very smooth start, according to the Washington Post:
The convention’s first day lacked the orchestrated staging of most modern political events. The convention host delivered a meandering welcome speech without notes, saying he misplaced them. Former congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) offered a fiery defense of Judeo-Christian faith and traditional American values, but there was no prayer or Pledge of Allegiance to open the convention — nor was there an American flag in the convention hall. ([Tea Party Nation spokesman] Skoda blamed the oversight on the hotel staff.
With earlier big names Michele Bachman and Marsha Blackburn pulling out of the event, citing congressional ethics concerns over its sponsorship by the for-profit group Tea Party Nation, delegates were instead treated to opening remarks by one of the loonier tunes on the national political scene, former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo, the apostle of twenty-first century nativism. Tancerdo fired up the crowd with a peroration lashing the American people for their ignorance in electing the “committed socialist ideologue…Barack Hussein Obama,” suggesting it wouldn’t have happened if the country had civics and literacy tests for voting. He also blasted John McCain, who is of course a Tancredo bete noir thanks to his one-time support for immigration reform legislation.
Though it’s well-known that anti-immigrant sentiment is very strong in Tea Party circles, it’s still debatable whether the convention did itself any favors by featuring Tancredo, a man whose 2008 presidential campaign disappeared without a trace, and whose political sense was perhaps best illustrated by his attack on Pope Benedict XVI for favoring good treatment of U.S. immigrants in order to boost Catholic church attendence.
The best news is that the Washington Independent‘s Dave Weigel is now on the scene in Nashville, and should have some interesting dispatches over the weekend. And then Saturday night comes the long-awaited televised speech by Sarah Palin, during a dinner where those who paid the pricey registration fee will reportedly dine on that hearty populist fare, steak and lobster.
Speaking of those fees, Tea Party Nation spokesman Mark Skoka had the best line so far in response to perpetual complaints from Tea Party activists about the for-profit nature of the event:
Convention spokesman Mark Skoda acknowledged Wednesday that [Judson] Phillips and his wife, Sherry Phillips, founders of the for-profit Tea Party Nation Inc., will “make a few bucks” on the event. But Skoda questioned why that should be anyone’s concern.
“Have we gone so far in the Obama-socialist view of the nation that ‘profit’ is a bad word — in particular, if we’re using it to advance the conservative cause?” Skoda asked.