Juan Williams was on Fox News Sunday today where he pointed out that moving the GOP to the extreme right the Tea Party is setting the stage for President Obama to win reelection in 2012. Williams said, “It looks to me like they are setting up Barack Obama’s reelection. I mean they are positioning themselves as extremists.”
Here is the video of Juan Williams from Media Matters:
Williams said, “I think there is a civil war going on right now and it’s becoming apparent. What’s striking to me, picking up on what you were saying, it looks to me like they are setting up Barack Obama’s reelection. I mean they are positioning themselves as extremists. They want to cut things like Head Start, policemen on the streets, funding for scientific research in America. You know, people are going to look at this and say look yes, we are concerned about the deficit, but we don’t want to kill jobs, kill the economy. Republicans? Why would they be doing this? Even the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want this.”
The problem, which Williams effectively highlighted, is that the Tea Party agenda is too extreme to govern by. Americans always say that they are concerned about the deficit, but they always oppose any cuts in services. Americans want a lower deficit, but they also want police on the streets and Head Start. If the Tea Party continues to push the leadership, they will ensure Obama’s reelection by making the GOP look like a bunch of fringe extremists.
The Tea Partiers need to learn that the platform that allowed them to win seats in midterm election is not a mandate to govern by. In 2012, there will be a national election that will feature a bigger, broader, and more diverse electorate. The majority of people voting in 2012 won’t be Tea Party and Republican Party supporters. The Democrats and Independents will be out in numbers. If the Tea Party continues to push the GOP to the right, Obama’s approval ratings will continue to rise, and he will likely cruise to reelection.
I believe the Tea Party will help Obama most in a ways that Williams didn’t address. The Tea Party will be the critical force in the 2012 Republican primary. The Tea Partiers are the Republican state and local grassroots organization. These people are the hardest of the hardcore, and they are going to have a big say in who wins the party’s nomination. This is why Mitt Romney should be very concerned, and why Sarah Palin is pressing ahead with a presidential campaign despite her low poll numbers.
It is a clear that the Tea Party will not support Mitt Romney. Romney, who is likely the only Republican candidate that could pose a credible challenge to Obama, is too moderate for the Tea Party. His best hope is that Palin and Huckabee split the Tea Party support, which could open up a clear path to the nomination for him. However, it is most likely that the Tea Party will throw their weight behind a Huckabee or a Palin. Obama would have the luxury of running against an extremist unelectable Republican, which would virtually insure his reelection.
If the Republican leadership loses the civil war for control of their party, the GOP will be putting their relevancy at risk. The Republican leadership understands the realities and limitations of national politics. The Tea Party doesn’t care. These are people who would rather lose with ideological purity than win with compromise, and more than anything, it is this attitude that helping President Obama look more and more like a soon to be two term president.