January 13, 2010

Notice that peculiar odor arising from the news that Sarah Palin plans to speak at the National Tea Party Convention planned the first week of February in Nashville?

It's got the distinct whiff of a scam. Take, for instance, Palin's insistence last night on The O'Reilly Factor -- in her debut as a "Fox News Analyst" -- that "I will not be financially gaining anything from this".

Well, yeah, except for that $100,000 speaking fee. Palin insisted she was going to "turn it right back around and contribute to campaigns, candidates, and issues that will help our country."


But exactly what kind of movement is it that locks out the press and operates behind closed doors? As Dave Weigel says:

This really is unusual. As a journalist, I’ve been allowed into sessions, dinners, everything at conferences hosted by the Eagle Forum and by Focus on the Family. Extra credit to Eagle Forum here — when I was covering the How to Take Back America Conference in St. Louis, Phyllis Schlafly’s son Andy, an organizer, invited me away from my media seat and into a seat at his dinner table to chat with more activists. And some of the most controversial speakers at the National Tea Party Convention, like Rick Scarborough, happily chatted with me inside and outside of their sessions at previous events.

One major implication of this, of course, is that for the third time since the presidential election — the first at a speech in China, the second at a speech for a pro-life group in Indiana — Sarah Palin will give a political speech that members of the media are not allowed to attend.

The National Tea Party Convention is being largely spearheaded by Tea Party Nation, which styles itself an independent operation. But if you look at the list of speakers, among them is WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah, who's keynoting the Friday dinner.

WND, you may recall, has been promoting an assortment of conspiracy theories about Obama, including the "Birther" theory and the claim that concentration camps are being planned for rounding up conservatives. (Weigel has more on this.)

Even the redoubtable Erick Erickson at RedState is sensing the odor:

I think the tea party movement has largely descended into ego and quest for purpose for individuals at the expense of what the tea party movement started out to be.

That’s not to say it is in every case. I have much good to say about groups like Tea Party Patriots, but I think this national tea party convention smells scammy.

Let me be blunt: charging people $500.00 plus the costs of travel and lodging to go to a “National Tea Party Convention” run by a for profit group no one has ever heard of sounds as credible as an email from Nigeria promising me a million bucks if I fork over my bank account number.

That scammy smell is what you get whenever you combine money and far-right wingnuttery.

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