Today I am broadcasting from the Phoenix Convention Center and the first gathering of the Tea Party Patriots (www.TeaPartyPatriots.org) since November 2’s sweeping wins and since the new Congress convened in January.
“Remote” broadcasts are not a favorite of mine, and even the national conventions-- which the radio audience especially loves-- are organized chaos for the technical side of the broadcast. Most remotes have a thousand things go wrong that drive the engineers crazy, and guests can be less than prompt. But the energy is always high and the background noise adds some wonderful color to the program.
Today’s broadcast will be more than entertaining, though, and I especially hope the sharpies inside the Beltway and the members of Congress back in their districts get a chance to listen. (My D.C. affiliate is 1260 AM WRC, which provides an excellent online listening station if you are away from the car.) The Tea Party Patriots are authentically grassroots, and their founders, Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin are genuine old school leaders who resist trying to do anything except coordinate the sprawling network of chapters and who reject the idea that the movement can be told what to do or whom to support. They call themselves coordinators, and while they will offer their own opinions on various issues, they won’t tell you what the Tea Party Patriots are thinking as a whole.
For a sense of that, you have to go to Phoenix, so we are. From top to bottom of the show today my producer Duane will be gathering activists to ask them whether the Congressional GOP has gone far enough in cutting spending, whether Scott Walker is doing the right thing in Wisconsin, and whom they support on the GOP side in 2012 –if anyone. Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain are definitely on the program in Phoenix this weekend, though I am not sure who else will be there. I don’t think any member of the House GOP leadership is slated to appear, which tells me the communications arm of the caucus is still struggling to figure out that the Meet the Press audience is not their key demographic while the Tea Party Patriots are.