Tea Party favorites Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have canceled scheduled appearances at next week's National Tea Party Convention in Nashville. Both cited the event's controversial finances—its organizers hope to make a profit by selling tickets at $549 per person—as the reason they dropped out. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is reportedly receiving a $100,000 speaking fee, says she won't drop out. But some Tea Party activists are urging her to reconsider, while others are threatening demonstrations outside the convention to protest what they see as the exploitation of their grass-roots movement. Is the event that was meant to unify the Tea Party movement going to tear it apart instead? (Watch an MSNBC report about the Tea Party convention's difficuties)
The convention's toast, but the Tea Party will survive: "The unraveling of the Tea Party convention doesn't necessarily reflect an unraveling of the larger right-wing 'movement,'" says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. One "poorly planned debacle" of a convention says nothing about the strength of a far-flung "collection of unhinged activists." But the convention was meant to be "a key strategizing moment for the upcoming elections" and its implosion is certainly a setback.
"Tea Party convention continues to unravel"
Turning Tea Party anger inward could kill the movement: The Tea Party swept the nation because people were angry at Washington, says Joe Scarborough in Newsweek. Thanks to the convention, many of the movement's "most passionate and vocal members seem just as mistrusting of each other as they are of the federal government." If this keeps up, the Tea Party risks "tearing itself apart."
"Is the Tea Party over?"
Palin could be the real loser: The controversy is hurting ticket sales, says Stephanie Mencimer in Mother Jones. So many of the people urging Sarah Palin to drop out are just trying to protect her. If the dinner at which she's speaking turns out to be a total "flop," her speech could be "a humiliating public relations disaster."
"Sarah Palin's Tea Party dinner disaster"