Something fun to cleanse the palate at the end of a long Memo Day and even longer Memo Week. This comes from Tea Party Patriots Action, an offshoot of a group founded two months after Obama was inaugurated in 2009 and dedicated at the time, as all tea party groups were, to smaller government, lower taxes, and individual liberty. Nine years later they’re running interference on a criminal investigation for the guy who’s in charge of the government — and who’s never showed much interest in two of their three core goals — by attacking the Justice Department for him. That trajectory, from then to now, is practically a right-wing version of “Animal Farm.” In its departure from its core values, it reminds me of those NRA ads ranting about Antifa, the media, protesters, and assorted obnoxious left-wingers, with gun rights merely a minor theme. You can understand why the NRA would do that since, with Republicans in charge of government, there’s no threat from the feds at the moment to the group’s mission. Gun rights are safe for now so they’ve got to find something to keep NRA members active and donating. The Tea Party Patriots’ mission, though, has barely lost any salience since 2009. Trump has cut some regulations, sure, but federal spending, ballooning debt, and metastasizing entitlements are as much a concern as ever.
Their problem is that Trump doesn’t care much about that and, therefore, the base doesn’t care much about it either. What they care about is Rod Rosenstein and Russiagate. So if you’re an activist group trying to stay vital, which ad do you run? “Medicare Reform Now” or “Purge the Deep State Traitors”?
Rosenstein isn’t an elected official, he’s the deputy Attorney General appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Typically groups don’t waste money trying to rally public opinion against public servants who, uh, aren’t directly accountable to the public. But you know what the point of this spot is. Trump wants to fire Rosenstein and everyone around him in the West Wing is nervous about it; the only way it’s going to happen is if popular opinion on the right demands it. The more Republican voters call for Rosenstein’s head, the more cover Trump will have to pull the trigger. It’ll still be a 40/60 issue nationally, but he’s used to ratios like that at this point. The ad is aiming to do exactly what the Memo was aiming to do, galvanize right-wing support for Trump’s eventual order to cashier Rosenstein. He can’t fire Mueller so this is the consolation prize. It makes me laugh that the TPP won’t clearly call on Rosenstein to fire Mueller either in the ad even though that’s clearly what they mean by “do your job or resign.” Probably they figured that if they went that far, making the demand to can Mueller explicit, it would attract too much criticism from the media and might backfire on them — and Trump. Best to leave the demand that’s being made of Rosenstein vague and plausibly deniable.
Their next ad should target Peter Strzok, whose latest batch of texts with Lisa Page has been reviewed by the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal with no evidence of any conspiracy discovered. Strzok clearly doesn’t like Trump (“OMG I am so depressed,” he texted Lisa Page after Trump’s victory) but he dislikes the Russians much more. Actual quote about our friends in Moscow: “F*cking conniving cheating savages. At statecraft, athletics, you name it.” I’m going to get that crocheted on a pillow. When he’s right, he’s right.