Wednesday, January 26, 2011

GOP v. Central Texas Tea Party: Infighting In Bell County

Belton – When April 15 rolls around, the Tea Party won't be allowed to participate in the GOP victory lap in this distinguished old cotton town in the rich blackland bottoms of the Lampassas River and Cowhouse Creek.

A funny thing happened to the outfit on their way to the Bell County Expo Center in making preparations for the by-now traditional Tea Party Tax Day rally.

The “establishment” Republican Party snookered the upstarts, according to the tribe's chief, West Point grad Wes Riddle, chairman of the Central Texas Tea Party, unsuccessful congressional candidate, and author of the daily political blog, “Horse Sense.”

Here's how it shaped up, and it's just the latest episode in a long-standing feud between the Tea Party and the firstest with the mostest old-line GOP types.

Mr. Riddle told Tea Partiers all about it last night at his downtown Beltonian Theater.

It's a newly remodeled downtown picture show with loge seating, tables at every row, and a full menu of snacks, beer and wine to go with the movies. Nifty place. European in its décor and ambience.

In a classic exercise in creating confusion, GOP stalwarts organized as the Bell County Conservative Club announced an April 15 rally the day after the Tea Party announced a Tax Day for the 16th.

When the Tea Party approached them in the spirit of unity, they acquiesced and the two organizations made plans to share the arena at the Bell County Expo Center on the 15th, but then, an even funnier thing happened.

Except no one is laughing.

There has been a change in plans. The speakers who were originally scheduled to appear at the Tea Party rally will not be allowed to participate in the April 15th Tax Day celebration.


“What's going on here is an out-and-out attempt to co-opt the Tea Party,” Mr. Riddle said.

After “They spread the rumor that we seized the Tea Party from (Bell County co-founder) Judy Brady,” the GOP hierarchy made various bids to create further confusion in the minds of the public by “making the Tea Party the target of an organized Republican challenge.”

Nevertheless, the two-year-old organization has scheduled a full round of speakers and seminars to educate voters on the finer points of redistricting the state's Congressional seats according to the 2010 Census. A full discussion of the particulars may be found at

“This is not what the Republican Party wants to see,” Wes Riddle stated, to scattered applause, even some laughter.

The original Tea Party mailing list was a copy of e-mail addresses gleaned from Republican Party records before the organization began its last Tuesday evening of the month get-togethers at libraries and classrooms, the theater and other venues for educational programs, speakers and political rallies. They quickly built their own new database and membership roster. It's a Tea Party now, not just an adjunct of the Republican Party.

Number one Tea Party priority: Oust Obama in 2012.

“We are an independent conservative American voice.”

The Tea Party is predicting a court challenge to each evolution of the Legislature's redistricting process.

“By July 4th, we should know where the new boundary lines will be drawn.”

They'll be waiting and ready in Belton, it appears.

Though he was a novice in the latest go-round, Mr. Riddle got his share of experience with dirty tricks from his own party, the party of Lincoln.

Two unhappy events shaped his ill-fated 2010 campaign for House Of Representatives.

1. The Republican Party “sent a staffer down to say” if he didn't quit his primary race, he would never have a future in the Republican Party of Texas.

2. His campaign manager was an individual from Williamson County who was told that if he didn't quit, he would never get political work in Williamson County again, and would probably never get any other business off the ground in that county, either.
“I don't want to always be the Chairman of the Central Texas Tea Party,” he concluded. Soon, the Party will adopt new by-laws and restructure its executive committee. “Then they can vote the rascals out if they want to.”

The crowd thinned out immediately when the lights went down to air President Barack Hussein Obama's State of the Union Speech, which was simulcast on the theater's screen. Eventually, the Beltonian will become a center for corporate meetings and presentations.

The President held forth for 62 minutes, was interrupted by standing ovations 82 times, and succeeded in underwhelming the Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy and Marines when he bragged that “for the first time in history,” people who love their country enough to defend it won't be discriminated against “because of who they love.”

While the politicians stood and applauded this hyperbolic celebration of the end of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” in the case of gays and lesbians serving on active duty, the generals and admirals sat, stone-faced and stolid, unsmiling, eschewing all signs of applause.

They won't happy, as they say back in old Virginny, Arlington, that is.

The sparse crowd in the theater was similarly unmoved by the President's braggadocio claims that “The stock market has come roaring back,” and when he said of the economic troubles and joblessness of the nation's work force, “This is our generation's Sputnik.”

Response, in contrast to the wild applause and repeatedly enthusiastic ovations given the President by the professional politicians on the screen, was as flat as yesterday's Dr. Pepper left out overnight on a hot summer patio, complete with soggy cigarette butts and the odd fly and moth and mosquito carcasses.

Derisive snorts and snickers greeted his pronouncement that “The rules have changed!” and it was all the Vice President and Speaker of the House could do to hide their embarrassment and disgust as the President plodded through the fodder of his uncouth remarks about medical malpractice reform and the “need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making.”

People yawned at the promise that there will be 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2050 and that by 2985, 80 percent of America's electricity will come from solar power.

Hostile remarks greeted the President's announcement that No Child Left Behind will be replaced with Race To The Top in the field of education.

When the Fox News network commentator abruptly announced, in a rather rude tone of voice, “That was President Obama's State of the Union Address!” the thin crowd lurched to its feet and fled the theater, clearly embarrassed to have witnessed the sorry spectacle.

This Tea Party got gritty and rolled up its sleeves, suddenly appalled by the low rent spectacle of a nation in trouble with its befuddled executive leadership and lopsided Congressional balance of power.

It's going to be a long decade.


Read my lips, and other words to that effect.


  1. It has always been my understanding that the Joint Chiefs and Supreme Court Justices never applaud at the State of the Union. Since they are suppose to be non political they sit stoically.

  2. Yes I was rather underwhelmed as well.
    The TX gop is quietly (or not) setting up a fight with the TX Tea Party. That is a good sign as to the effectiveness. They are intimidated.
    Tinner Jim, Seguin, TX

  3. Factual correction:

    "Two unhappy events shaped his ill-fated 2010 campaign for House Of Representatives."

    This campaign was in 2004.