Last night on CNN, Larry King discussed the growth of the Tea Parties and their effect on the Republican Party. While Nancy Pfotenhauer, a Republican strategist who has worked in the past for David Koch, the oil billionaire funding the top groups organizing the Tea Parties, praised the development as “phenomenal,” other Republicans were doubtful. David Frum, a speech writer in the Bush White House, and Scott McClellan, the former press secretary to Bush, decried the Tea Parties for their extreme views, like seeking to abolish Social Security. McClellan explained that the Tea Parties have “limited appeal” because they are simply a “divisive protest movement” that “plays too much to people’s fears and hatred”:
FRUM: When you bring on two people on to an important show like this, and they represent themselves as leading a conservative and libertarian uprising against the president, and you say what you would really like to do, and they say, we would like to abolish Social Security, if given half a chance, is that helpful to the Republican Party? There probably aren’t even two percent of the members of the Republican Party who think that way. But that — those are the people on television. That’s not helpful. […]
MCCLELLAN: And then you also had the comments from the one Tea Party activist that was at the rally over the weekend in Searchlight, referring to President Obama as a terrorist. I mean, that’s just outrageous. You know, I think that there are probably many decent people in the Tea Party movement that have some legitimate concerns about their economic security. […]
But this is a divisive protest movement that plays too much to people’s fears and hatred. And it’s got limited appeal. I think that after the 2010 elections, you’re going to see this party or the Tea Party movement dissipate to a great degree. … It has limited influence. It really hasn’t shown itself to be a strong, powerful force, even within the Republican Party. However, it is pushing Republicans too far to the right.
As ThinkProgress has documented, rather than lead the Tea Parties into a responsible direction, GOP lawmakers have sought to inflame the movement with violent rhetoric, outlandish conspiracy theories, and hate towards Democrats. The Tea Parties are providing loyal protesters and campaign volunteers to Republican campaigns though, so it is unclear if the Republican Party is even capable of separating from them.