For decades, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has been a barometer of the different political tendencies inside the right-wing. In the 1980s, Reagan administration officials and Reaganite New Rightists dominated the podium. Pres. Reagan spoke at CPAC in both 1984 and 1988. In the 1990s, culture warriors like Pat Buchanan and the Rev. Pat Robertson joined Republican regulars such as Sens. Bob Dole and Phil Gramm. At this years’ CPAC13, Tea Party leaders and Tea Party-supported politicians will dominate the proceedings. The result is an agenda filled with bigots, conspiracy mongers, and publicity hounds.
What Does CNN have to say?
Just over a week after the IREHR Special Report Tea Party Nationalism first exposed many of the so-called “birthers” in the leadership of the different national factions, Tea Party Nation (TPN) founder Judson Phillips decided to openly join that growing list yesterday.
Rather than join those who claim the President Obama is not a natural-born American, Phillips promoted his peculiar theory as to why he thinks that President Obama is ineligible to hold the office. Phillips brand of “birtherism” weaves another layer of xenophobia into this already racially-charged discourse on citizenship.
In an article on the TPN website entitled, “The Birth Certificate of Barack Obama,” Phillips writes, “Is Obama really an American citizen, as all of the folks hitting the eligibility question ask? By birth, probably, but there is a curve ball. As a child, his mother married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian, who then adopted Obama and they moved to Indonesia. The law in effect at the time stated that if an American child was adopted by a citizen of another country and moved to that country, the child lost its American citizenship. The child could regain its citizenship by applying to an American Embassy at age 18 but would only be treated as a naturalized citizen.”
Phillips explained that he hoped that there would be a court ruling that would find Obama ineligible to be President. Nevertheless, he wanted that ruling to occur after 2013, because he wants Obama in the 2012 presidential race. Phillips argued that keeping President Obama in office “will all but guarantee a Republican win in 2012.”
Although Phillips had been coy about the topic until now, his public embrace of the birther position should come as no surprise. As IREHR reported in February, at the Tea Party Nation Convention in Nashville, Phillips introduced Joseph Farah, of the far right website WorldNetDaily.com, as the Friday evening keynote speaker. Farah spent much of his speech cooking up a Biblical basis for his obsession with Obama’s birth certificate.
Phillips joins TPN marketing director Pam Farnsworth in publicly embracing the birther position. Other birthers in prominent national Tea Party leadership roles include Amy Kremer (Tea Party Patriots, later Tea Party Express), Mark Williams (Tea Party Express), and Darla Dawald (ResistNet).
For more on the Tea Parties and the Birthers, see "'Who is An American?': Tea Parties, Nativism and the Birthers" in Tea Party Nationalism.
After a year of fast-paced growth and increasing influence, the Tea Partiers suffered their first ever political defeat on Sunday when the House of Representatives passed health care reform. Remember, it was the Tea Partiers' protests at town hall meetings last August that slowed the legislative drive toward reform and effectively took the single-payer option out of the Democratic Party's playbook. Tea Partiers started to push "independents" away from the Democrats, and they pushed the Republican establishment into becoming the party of no-compromise opposition. Now a simple up or down vote has thrown the first roadblock in front of the Tea Partiers, and the question emerges: how will they respond over the next five months?
For the second time in a month, the cable news network, CNN, announced that they would be teaming up with the Tea Party Express. In a move unprecedented in TV news history, CNN is giving live coverage to the Tea Party response to president Obama’s State of the Union address, on top of the Republican response. This follows the controversial decision by CNN to partner with the Tea Party Express to host a Republican presidential debate in the fall. No other news network will be giving Bachmann live coverage.