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Is the Tea Party breaking up?
What a feud between rival leaders means for the grassroots movement's future
 
Is the Tea Party shattering?
Is the Tea Party shattering?
Bitterjug (CC BY)

A widely publicized spat between two Tea Party groups has fueled talk of a serious rift within the protest movement. Many politicial analysts say the National Tea Party Federation's expulsion of California radio host and Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams for a racially tinged attack on the NAACP could disrupt Tea Partiers and make them less of a force in November's midterm elections. But Tea Party Federation spokesman David Webb says there's "not a split" — Webb was just "an embarrassment" who didn't represent the movement properly. Is the Tea Party breaking up? (Watch Mark Williams defend the Tea Party)

This "flap" has ignited an internal Tea Party revolt: This controversy, touched off by NAACP complaints of racism within the Tea Party, is now "about far more than just race," says Zachary Roth in The Daily Beast. It's about who is going to control the Tea Party, and by setting itself up as the movement's "race cop" the federation has stirred up a "revolt" among some grassroots groups. So much for turning the Tea Party into a "disciplined" and "united" movement.
"Revolt inside the Tea Party"

Talk of a rift is a liberal distraction: The mainstream media's obsession with alleged racism and infighting in the Tea Party is just a meaningless distraction, says the Heritage Foundation's Rory Cooper at Politico. Some questions that voters should really be thinking about this fall, for example, are whether President Obama is doing a good job of handling the BP oil spill — "No" — and whether he is killing the Gulf economy with his "court-defying" drilling moratorium — "Yes."
"Will tea party infighting hurt the movement?"

This "food fight" isn't what divided the Tea Party: Liberals "have done their self-interested best to hype the racial element of this grassroots food fight," says Dan Gerstein in Forbes. But the divide between the majority of Tea Partiers and their "bigoted fringe" is "the least of their problems." The real issue is that, 18 months into its existence, the Tea Party still "literally has no center" or leadership or rules — "let alone a well-defined agenda."
"Disorganization men"

 

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