Tea Party Caucus: GOP and Tea Party openly embrace

A portrait of Michelle Bachmann with flag and capitol backdrop

The new Tea Party Caucus, led by Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachman, brings the previously undeclared marriage of the Tea Party with the GOP out in the open. Wikimedia Commons photo.

The Tea Party Caucus was formed in Washington on Wednesday. Michelle Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota known for her gratuitous right wing politics, appointed herself leader of the Tea Party Caucus. Until now, the Tea Party movement had claimed allegiance to no political party. Before Wednesday, right wing Republicans have ridden the coattails of the movement without having to risk being identified directly with anarchists and racists on the Tea Party fringe. Those illusions have been shattered with the formation of the Tea Party Caucus. Some are wondering if Bachmann is doing her fellow right wing Republicans more harm than good as they seek to regain control of Congress.

Tea Party Caucus led by Michelle Bachmann

The Tea Party, which opposes big government, now has a caucus with members who are neck deep in it. The New York Times reports that the Tea Party Caucus spent its first day of existence trying to figure out just what it is. After glomming on to the movement, Michelle Bachmann said she was not vouching for the Tea Party, any of its members, or its billboards and signs. Referring to herself and the caucus as merely the “receptacle,” she couldn’t say whether the Tea Party Caucus would offer legislation of its own, like other caucuses, or work for or against bills written by any political party. So far, the Tea Party Caucus has 28 Republican members from the House.

Tea Party and Republicans come out of the closet

Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin, surrounded by right wing House Republicans, said she wanted to make sure that her new political bedfellows “don’t become a mouthpiece for the movement.” But Dana Milbank at the Washington Post says its already too late. Milbank said When Tea Party leaders join right wing Republican lawmakers for a private strategy session on right wing politics, followed by a campaign rally and photo op in the shadow of the Capitol, each has essentially endorsed the right wing politics of the other. Tea Party activist Ana Puig made that motion by saying “We have to turn the tide around now in 2010 by electing conservative candidates such as Mrs. Bachmann here.” Georgia Republican Phil Gingrey seconded the motion by saying “Let’s lean into the fight, and let’s take this country back in November.”

Bachmann puts GOP colleagues on the spot

At the Tea Party Caucus rally, a reporter asked Bachmann whether she was “putting your Republican colleagues in a spot” where they had to embrace the Tea Party. Politico reports that some Republicans, even as they have gleefully watched Tea Party anger at the Democratic administration, may be hesitant to endorse the sentiments expressed by the movement’s most extreme elements, such as Nazi imagery and racist propaganda. House Minority Leader John Boehner won’t have his name on the caucus list. Republican whip Eric Cantor of Virgina and his chief deputy, Kevin McCarthy of California, known as “Young Guns” for the GOP, are also keeping their powder dry.

Other recent posts by bryanh