Is there really anything that special about the Tea Party?

(l to r) Deal, Scott & Paladino….anti-Government crooks

Christine McConnell faces new charge of  expenses corruption….but that’s nothing new in the Tea Party ranks.

While the difference between aspiration and achievement is often the basis of great comedy, in politics it can also harden one’s cynical resolve not to believe in anyone holding public office….or trying to.

Our best home-grown example of this is Nick Clegg, the man who went from Unknown Politician to favourite for Prime Minister in last April’s Election opinion polls. Having since gone back on almost everything he espoused and believed in, Slick Nick rationalises each gently broken vow (and omitted Manifesto promise) with “This is a marathon not a sprint” and “It will take some time for people to get used to Coalition Government”. Especially Vince Cable.

But now it seems, America’s anti-Establishment backlash is slowly emerging as maybe not such a backlash after all. More of a back-scratch, in fact.

Accepting the genera rule that most Democrat-leaning US media will gild any accusatory lily to nail the Tea Partiers as uniformly dumb, the increasingly infamous Christine O’Donnell seems to be as corrupt as she is anti-onanist. The U.S. Attorney’s office has confirmed that it is reviewing a complaint about Miss O’Donnell’s campaign spending. The complaint, filed by a watchdog group, isn’t the first one to be investigated: CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) had a go at her last year on the same basis, and several former campaign workers have alleged that she often dipped into political contributions to pay personal expenses in her three consecutive (failed) attempts to get into the US Senate.

Her campaign manager Matthew Moran has said Ms O’Donnell is the victim of “false-attack rumours”, an interesting phrase perhaps trying to suggest that Christine’s enemies make up stories about her being attacked. It’s also possible, of course, that they simply report wrongdoing, and then spot how suspiciously large numbers of other folks are doing the same thing. Anyway, this is now something about which the Attorney General’s men and women must take a decision.

Meanwhile, arch anti-Washington and All American Cloud carrier Sarah Palin saw a personal popularity rating in her home State fall to 33%.  During the midterm elections campaign, Mrs Palin enthusiastically backed Joe Miller, the Tea Party candidate in the Alaskan Senate contest. But he lost to a Republican write-in candidate. Given Palin herself is technically a Republican, some GOPers seem to have taken that to heart: Mike Huckerbee is now the preferred Republican Presidential candidate for 2012 by some distance.

And we shouldn’t forget that, as Governor of Alaska, an independent investigator for the state Personnel Board found that there might be evidence suggesting a trust fund, created to pay Palin’s legal expenses, was in violation of state ethics law. With suspicious haste, she resigned the Office eighteen months before the completion of her term.

Last March, a Nevadan asphalt contractor faced a legal challenge to his Tea Party candidacy for the U.S. Senate after theft and bouncy-cheque charges were brought against him in a Las Vegas Court – enough to put him behind bars for 14 years if convicted. TP heads quickly distanced themselves from Scott Ashjian, by issuing a press statement asking him to ‘Get lost’. In the eventual election, he picked up 2% of the vote.

Specifically, three raging anti-Federal-cost Partiers set new standards in hypocrisy as the mid-terms progressed.

In New York, businessman Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino railed against government costs, but turned out to be the state government’s largest landlord in Western New York.  In Florida’s Republican gubernatorial primary, Tea Party-backed candidate Rick Scott became the subject of an FBI probe that ultimately uncovered the largest Medicaid fraud in the nation’s history, totaling $1.7 billion in civil and criminal penalties. In Georgia, pro-TP candidate Nathan Deal made $1.4 million a year on a government contract….that never went out for bids….of which Deal was also pocketing an undisclosed $75,000 salary.

Google this stuff, and you’d be blogging until Domesday. The Tea Party remains what is seemed to me to represent from Day One: a motley crew of redneck opportunists and hucksters with barmy beliefs…and the standard depth of brass neck required to be….er, politicians.

Still, James Delingpole believes in them – and as JD observes, he’s right about everything.