Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin recently invited Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak to her home in Alaska for dinner to discuss his new book, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party.
In a discussion posted on The Sarah Palin Channel, Palin asked Pollak about the book while preparing dinner for Pollak, her dad, mother, and husband Todd.
Pollak told Palin, who is considered the North Star of the conservative movement in opposition to President Barack Obama’s desire to “fundamentally change” America, that Wacko Birds is really a “political history of the last four years.” He said it “discusses where the Tea Party fell short,” especially in securing leadership positions in Congress, but also defends “its place in the American political system and its support system.”
Establishment Republicans have attacked Palin and other conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) more than Obama and Democrats since the movement inspired grassroots conservatives across the country. And that has, as Pollak notes in his book, contributed to tarnishing the Tea Party’s brand even though Americans agree with the movement’s principles, especially on fiscal issues and individual liberty.
Palin told Pollak that it “baffles me that the machine will continue to push back on” the Tea Party, which put the current GOP establishment in Congress in power after the historic 2010 midterm elections. She said, “if you read the planks in the [GOP] platform, that’s Tea Party.”
Pollak, as he details in Wacko Birds, said the “vast majority of Americans agree with what the Tea Party stands for,” but the “media has set out to tarnish it,” often with the help of establishment Republicans.
To Palin, though, Tea Partiers are “not caught up in labels and name tags.” Palin, who has urged Republicans to fight for the “forgotten man,” praised the blue-collar, middle-class Americans who identify with the movement and who “don’t care that the boss has some Harvard degree on the wall.” She said her friends and family are not political and are just hard-working, commonsense Americans who will naturally lean conservative on a variety of issues and do not judge leaders solely based on their credentials on paper.
“If the boss is a good boss and shows good leadership skills, we’re going to follow the boss,” she told Pollak.
In Pollak’s book, he notes that one of biggest missed opportunities for the Tea Party movement was not securing a top leadership position in the House after the 2010 midterm elections. And after Tea Party voters ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in June, the movement again failed to get someone in a top post. Palin wondered whether the Tea Party needed to “play the game” more and embrace some of the organizational bureaucracy, which, at this time, would mean bringing in “paid professionals” whose allegiances seem to be first and foremost to the permanent political class the movement loathes. Pollak said that some needed to play the game more from the inside while others may be more successful from outside of the political structure.
The left faced a similar “catch-22” after President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection. In his book, Pollak describes how Howard Dean and his supporters took over their party’s machinery after the 2004 presidential election loss, which eventually contributed to Obama’s rise in 2008.
Conservatives–not wanting to be co-opted, sell out, or stabbed in the back by Washington operatives–did not go the same route after GOP losses in 2008 and 2012. Though liberal activists lash out against the party’s more centrist officeholders, Democrats don’t try to shiv–in public and private–their liberal coalition like the Republican establishment does conservatives. And that may explain why Republicans do not occupy the White House and why Tea Partiers are hesitant about “playing the game.”
Pollak, who was a Tea Party candidate for Congress before becoming a journalist, sets the table for many of these important discussions, by reflecting on the movement’s successes and failures.
In his book, Pollak, as he did in his discussion with Palin, also emphasizes the importance of culture, which the late Andrew Breitbart said was upstream form politics, and the role of new media, which Matt Drudge, Palin, and Breitbart allowed citizens to weaponize to combat the legacy media’s biases.
Pollak ultimately makes the case in Wacko Birds that the Tea Party movement must prevail for America to rebound.