For weeks now, we've been hearing about a planned convention of the "tea party" movement in Nashville next week. The organizers have touted the slate of true-blue (or maybe I should say true-red) tea partiers who would be speaking at the event. Among those heroes (or heroines) of tea partydom were Martha Blackburn (R-TN), Michele Bachmann (R-MN, or is it Mars?), and Sarah Palin (R-Fox News). Well, now, two of the speakers, Blackburn and Bachmann, have pulled out, citing belated concerns about congressional ethics rules. Only the stalwart Palin continues to stand four-square with the tea party convention organizers.
The convention has all along presented problems for the truly grassroots section of the TP movement. You see, it is a "for profit" venture. Several groups have looked at the success of the TPers in stirring people up and thought, "How can we co-opt this movement and make a buck off of it?" (It is the American Way, after all - the free market system at work.) This was their answer: A convention in the tea party haven of Nashville, Tennessee, to be held at the Opryland Hotel. Now, really, can you get any more grassroots than that? And about that money-making part? Well, a ticket costs $550 and the keynote speaker, Palin, will receive $100,000. It appears that SOMEBODY will be making money here, but it probably won't be the tea partiers.
It isn't only Bachmann and Blackburn who have dropped out. The American Liberty Alliance, the National Precinct Alliance, and the Tea Party Express also have either bowed out or expressed their intention to do so.
So, it appears when Palin takes the podium next week to give her rousing call to arms, there may be a lot of empty seats out there in front of her. If you've got $550 lying around in your sock drawer, you can probably still buy a ticket.