Monday I noted some out-state bloggers seeing through Kristi Noem's Tea Party image. Now a more prominent reporter confirms what I argued two weeks ago: the "Tea Party" (if they still exist) has been had by a bunch of budding GOP Washington insiders.
When the good people of South Dakota voted last month to send Republican Kristi Noem to Congress, they probably believed that she would give no quarter to the lobbyists and special interest groups who enjoyed, as she put it, "throwing money at the feet of a member of Congress."
But since she defeated Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (in part by making an issue of Herseth Sandlin's marriage to a lobbyist), Noem has hired her new chief of staff from . . . a lobbying firm! And on Tuesday afternoon, she was the guest of honor at a "Meet & Greet" with Washington high-rollers at the powerhouse lobbying firm Barbour Griffiths Rogers. Once these boys start throwing money at Noem's feet, she'll soon be chin deep in lobbyist greenbacks [Dana Milbank, "Forget Tea Party Rhetoric—Pork Barrel Politics Is Back," Washington Post, 2010.12.15].
Gee, Kristi, what South Dakota constituency does Barbour Griffiths Rogers represent? The GOP central committee is already trotting out Noem as its newest, cutest show pony, and the Snow Queen is more than happy to smile and wave and do what she's told for the big boys.
That may sound harsh, but as a literary exercise, imagine an alternative universe where Stephanie Herseth Sandlin won the election and did exactly the things cited by Mr. Milbank. Imagine you are a conservative blogger in said alternative universe. What would you have written about alt-universe-SHS lobbyist party girl?
Milbank's column supports the thesis that, if the "Tea Party" wasn't GOP astroturf from the start, the Republican National Committee effectively co-opted it, used it for its own electoral ends, and is now happily discarding it... at least unitl 2012, when Republicans will need to distill more outrage (and find better candidates) to beat President Obama.
Update 10:25 CST: Joe O'Sullivan is on Noem's case, too.
Update 11:03 CST: Let the spin begin: now the Tea Party line is to cloak lobbying in the Constitution. Gaack! Gaaaaacckkk! (sound of hypocrisy hairballs)