Politics, Tea Party News, Trump

Why Is Erick Erickson Protecting Reince Priebus?

Reince Preibus at RedState 2014


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Yes, it’s true, I have had disagreements with Erick in the past. I try to assess the situation, not just the person. It’s possible to disagree with someone on one subject and to agree with them on another.

If anything, Erick showed consistency by rescinding Trump’s invitation to Red State. Erick didn’t want the event to descend into chaos led by my friends over the Barbour episode; he doesn’t want a descent into chaos led by Donald Trump.

Some will call me a hypocrite. Go ahead. I’ve been called worse. And being seen as inconsistent on this matter is better, in my view, than siding with boorishness in an attempt to appear narrowly consistent some marginally important prior position. If I must be narrowly and reflexively consistent, I will remain consistent with my belief that the United States deserves and requires leaders of remarkable character, temperament, intelligence, creativity, and charm. I want it all in my next president. And Trump lacks several key ingredients.

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Call it the hand of God.

I was supposed to go to RedState Gathering this weekend, but things didn’t work out at the list minute. Now, I’m glad I wasn’t there.

Red State Gathering is blogger Erick Erickon’s annual conservative gabfest. This year, it was in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Reince Preibus at RedState 2014
Reince Priebus and Erick Erickson at RedState. Photo by anonymous Tea Partier

Reince Priebus, RNC Chairman, was one of the speakers. Priebus is under heavy pressure from Missouri’s Ed Martin and others to investigate Henry Barbour’s role in political attack ads that accuse the Tea Party of racism. So far, Priebus has blocked any such investigation.

Reince Priebus is running cover for Thad Cochran and Henry Barbour who called you, dear read, racist.

Traditionally, speakers at events like RedState Gathering take questions from the audience. But Erickson saw that Tea Party Patriots were armed with signs and tough questions for the Priebus .

I asked Erickson, via Twitter, why he protected Priebus from questions. Here’s Erick’s response.

Erickson’s answer is nonsense. No, Priebus did not authorize Henry Barbour’s attack on the Tea Party. He is not responsible for Barbour’s actions. 

But Priebus is solely responsible for his own response to irrefutable evidence that Henry Barbour funded the ads. Erickson has made himself culpable in the cover-up by protecting Priebus who is protecting Barbour. (Priebus and Barbour go way back, as we shall see later.) It’s typical Republican Establishment “cover your ass” nonsense.

Erickson has not responded to my follow-up question: 

Priebus is Chairman of the RNC, for God’s sake. He’s in charge. He needs a blogger to protect him from Tea Party Patriots? Give me a break.

Enter Ed Martin, Stage Right

Meanwhile, Missouri GOP Chairman, Ed Martin, has risked his entire political future by filing motions of censure against Henry Barbour and the Mississippi Republicans who shamefully libeled tea partiers, plagiarizing the vilest tactics from the Al Sharpton playbook.

I realize it’s considered bad form to set up a guest for humiliation in some circles. I get that. But if you’re going to allow Priebus to speak, you have to let him feel the heat for his failure to investigate the shenanigans in Mississippi. By blocking the investigation, Priebus is protecting the bad actors and further alienating grassroots conservatives.

Of course, we all know why Priebus won’t investigate Mississippi. As the Spectator pointed out, Henry Barbour and Reince Priebus are old buddies:

Martin’s request for an investigation would be, one thinks, a no-brainer. This is, after all, the party of Lincoln. Race baiting has no place in the Republican Party, which came to be in the first place because of its staunch opposition to slavery.

But there’s a problem: Take a look at this link to a site for a lobbying group called Capital Resources, which includes a bio for one of the group’s partners, the aforementioned Henry Barbour. If you scan down a bit there is a series of bullet points describing Barbour’s background. The very first one reads as follows: “Helped run RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ campaign for chairman.”

Here’s the most depressing part of this whole sordid story. When faced with the choice of offending the Tea Party or the Establishment, Erickson decided to protect the Establishment.

Maybe Erickson was just being a good and gracious host. That’s what I want to think. But to those of us who’ve been in the streets fighting the establishment, this feels like another sell-out.

Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

21 Comments on “Why Is Erick Erickson Protecting Reince Priebus?

  1. Well, here’s the clincher. If you follower Erickson’s blogs on redstate, He’s been pushing for a long time for Ted Cruz to weigh in on the primary battles and especially what happened in Mississippi and all that payed off because Ted Cruz eventually weighed in. The argument could be made that well, Ted Cruz really can’t change anything either. What power does he have besides his “voice” and influence. So why would we expect anything less from Rinse Pubus?

  2. I lost respect for Priebus after he cut out Ron Paul at the Republican Convention. Talk about pulling the rug out from under some body! Just another political hack with a little more cred than most Democrats. I consider myself an Occupy Tea Party person. On one hand I think minimum wage should be zero and on the other hand why isn’t Jon Corzine in jail. It is the incestuous relationship between BIG BUSINESS and BIG GOVERNMENT that will be all of our undoing!

      1. Um, do you mean the guy born in 1896, or some other John Dos Passos? If we are talking about the same person, during the 1960s he supported Goldwater (which is good), but also supported Nixon (bad) and in some degree McCarthy (bad). One of his friends called him basically libertarian aka classical liberal (pretty good) in his views… but before WWII, the same John Dos Passos was a heavy supporter of Trotsky and the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, all the way up to the communist’s role in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. He only decided communism as practiced by Stalin was a bad thing, when one of his friends was killed by the secret police in Spain. Most of his writings are pro-socialism-slash-communism (albeit of the Marxist-Trotsky flavor it seems rather than Marxist-Stalinist). What particular works by John Dos Passos are you recommending as valuable? Or alternatively, is Wikipedia’s coverage of the guy just totally wrongheaded?

        1. Okay, here we go, by John Dos Passos in The National Review:

          1956-01-18 + 1956-02-15, Reminiscences of a Middle-Class Radical, pp9-11 + pp9-12
          1956-10-27 + 1956-11-03, Adlai Stevenson: Patrician with a Mission, pp11-15 + pp13-15
          1957-07-06, A Thought for the Fourth of July, p37
          1958-01-25, A Question of Elbow Room, pp85-87
          1960-12-14, Analyst, pp375-376
          1963-07-30, The Most Dangerous Man in Brazil, pp53-56
          1964-01-28, Please Mr. Rip Van Winkle, Wake Up Some More (Book Review), pp71-73
          1964-07-28, The Battle of San Francisco, p640
          1964-10-20, What Hope for Maintaining a Conservative Opposition?, pp907-909
          1966-10-18, The New Left: A Spook Out of the Past, pp1037-1039
          1968-01-16, What Makes a Novelist, pp29-32
          1968-08-13, Nineteen-sixty-eight, pp793-800
          1971-02-09, On the Way to the Moon Shot, pp135-136

          I cannot find this stuff online, but prolly it is still in libraries with back-issues; I will post the list here, in case other people are also interested.

          The one from July’64 is about the repub natl convention where Goldwater was nominated, and the one from Oct’64 is just before Goldwater was beaten by LBJ (partly due to the recency of JFK’s assassination and partly due to getting little funding from estab-repubs in the Nixon-faction and no funding from moderate-repubs in the Rockefeller-faction). John Dos Passos also backed Taft’52.

          Did find some pieces online talking about John Dos Passos himself; the guy is a bit of a conundrum. Some say he was an individualist-anarcho-syndicalist, others say he was a basically-libertarian-traditionalist (what nowadays we might call a paleolibertarian), and one person labelled him a selfless-humanist-capitalist (whatever that is). He first hated big biz, then he hated commies (though first he found it good), then hated the New Deal (though first he found it good also), and in the end also hated big unions, as well as big science. Big bureaucracy was his enemy, in other words, aka the Establishment in all stripes; Jeffersonian-ish individual freedom was his theme.

          If he were alive nowadays, he would prolly be in the tea party faction of the repub party, but would also fit in well with the Libertarian Party, *and* simultaneously with the (original anti-bailout) Occupy Wall Street folks. An interesting fellow. His main book (he was a novelist) from his latter “conservative phase” was the 1961 novel Mid-Century; it is not really a political-position-piece, but it is supposed to highlight his idea of freedom, plus calls out many of his enemies in the Big Bureaucracy.

          Now, basically 100% of his *pre*-WWII writing was perceived as pro-socialist pro-democrat and a bit pro-communist … and some of it was, because at the time he saw Big Biz as the chief threat to freedom, believing technocrat Thorsten Veblen and socialist Eugene Debs were the answer (see also TR and his trust-busting; Dos Passos was a muckraker novelist basically). Unlike most of the muckrackers, though, Dos Passos saw the results of the Communist Revolution (Stalin and the KGB) and hated them, and saw the results of FDR’s New Deal (bureaucracy and the Truman machine) and *really* disliked them. John Dos Passos still though Big Biz was bad news, but not because he was anti-capitalist per se, but merely because he was anti-BIG.

          Just as our host Mr Hennessy said. ;-)

        2. Awesome research. Thank you.

          Yeah, this stuff is hard to get online. I do have a commemorative copy of the very first National Review. Still in the envelope.

          Thanks, again, for this great research.

  3. Ed Martin is brave for taking this stand. Priebus & the GOP Establishment must be rehabilitated. If the GOP is to attract more voters ( younger, hispanic, black, asian as well as others). Then, thw establishment must be willing to walk from its cronies when they have lost.

  4. I saw through Reince Priebus a long time ago. He talks like he respects the Tea Party, but his actions show otherwise. I will not give money to the RNC as long as he is Chairman. Instead I give directly to the candidates I support so I know the money is being spent wisely.

  5. Erickson AND Priebus always gave me the “willies”: 1.Priebus with shenanigans that seemed to cut out the Tea Party with a kind of forked tongue and actions in Wisconsin, and his insincerity when he speaks up to the public…kind of like acting.
    and Erickson who blocked me from the Red State blog because I questioned religion as opposed to Christianity as it originally was in its beginnings, He disagreed, I stood my ground as he called me a “people like you” and blocked me. Besides, he never smiles on TV!
    Do we have the access to the use of an independent investigation into this disgusting racist crap?

  6. It was a gutless, cowardly move. Priebus is Chairman of the RNC and he should have been the one to call for an investigation into the sordid Mississippi Senate race and hold those responsible for the despicable racist acts. I stand with Ed Martin. If Thad Cochran had any principles he would have retired after losing in the primary, after 40+ years in Congress and not have a run-off election and endorsed and supported Chris McDaniel.

    1. Yeah, that’s right, Greg.

      Erickson knows this is controversial. He should have told Priebus, “Look, you’re going to have an opportunity to answer direct questions from the grassroots about the Mississippi thing.”

      Priebus would have balked, of course. “Erick, I can’t. They’ll be all frothed-up with highly caffeinated tea. They won’t listen to reason.”

      Erickson: “Sorry. I know it will be difficult, but the people who pay to get into this thing are the grassiest of the grass roots. Or the rootiest. Whatever. You can’t hide from this.”

      Priebus: “Then I’m not coming.”

      Erickson (to the audience): “Sorry, folks, but Reince Priebus chose not attend. He would have been here if I’d promised him no questions about the Mississippi thing, but I wouldn’t do that. I would have loved for him to be here and to talk about anything he wanted. But I wasn’t about to deny you–the people paying for this event–the right to question him about Mississippi and the call for an investigation into race-baiting ads that attacked Tea Partiers.”

      That’s how it should have gone down. That, of course, is not what happened.

      1. Bill, perhaps you misunderstand who is paying for the redstate-fundraisers. The reason people buy tickets, is not merely because they are the rootiest & grassiest of the grassroots, but also primarily to get access to big names like Priebus (and Cruz and so on). Erickson knows this, and also knows that he cannot afford to lose *his* access to those big names (Priebus writes a “drive-by” diary entry for redstate from time to time).

        This is nothing new: “You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is. …man is not independent, and cannot afford views which might interfere with his bread and butter. If he would prosper, he must train with the majority; in matters of large moment, like politics and religion, he must think and feel with the bulk of his neighbors, or suffer damage in his social standing and in his business prosperities. He must restrict himself to corn-pone opinions — at least on the surface. He must get his opinions from other people; he must reason out none for himself; he must have no first-hand views….” Mark Twain, on the politics of the late 1800s, full text at http://www.paulgraham.com/cornpone.html (worth reading)

        Redstate is a particular sort of digital neighborhood, wherein all ‘neighbors’ must agree; this groupthink is actively cultivated, by banning commenters who disagree with the target ideology (whether because they are too liberal or because they are ‘too conservative’ although it is of course not CALLED that). From such a viewpoint, the flap over protecting Priebus from being forced to acknowledge the truth, really *is* just a “minor bit of controversy” as Erickson said in his blog.

        Erickson’s position is that Priebus had no direct hand in the travesty, and therefore he has zero responsibility to put forth any leadership on the broader issue. “1. …neither Reince nor the RNC had anything to do with [Mississippi]… had he [Priebus], like me [Erickson], denied responsibility… they’d [questioners] have just been more angry.” Erickson is right about one thing: Priebus saying he was not at fault, and that there was nothing he could do about Henry Barbour and race-baiting tactics, WOULD make people angry. Silent tacit support of Henry and his race-baiting also makes people very angry, of course….

        Erickson also know the key to his own corn pone. “2. …organized effort to embarrass the Chairman… I undercut the effort … No one [at redstate gatherings] gets the right to be a jerk … The Chairman of the RNC is a good man and good chairman and much of what people are throwing at him is outside his control or portfolio.” The comments underneath, especially by redstate mods, are also quite revealing of the conflicted mindset held by redstate authors/owners. They know that access to big names, is what brings in the bucks for redstate; if the big names start to cancel, ticket sales to fundraising-gatherings will drop, and more big names will leave, and so on in a downward spiral.

        Remember in the 2012 campaign, when Romney lived in such a protected bubble, that he confidently believed he would beat Obama in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and other completely-out-of-reach states? That’s not just bad polling; that’s willful delusion. Putting leadership into a bubble is not only immoral, it is also pragmatically counterproductive!

        Worst of all, Erickson knows quite well that the RNC is very tightly interconnected (more on this in a separate comment) with the folks directly responsible for the race-baiting attacks in Mississippi, so even though Priebus personally and the RNC as an official entity DON’T have their fingerprints DIRECTLY on the race-baiting itself, methinks there is definitely a responsibility for the RNC chair to speak up about such tactics. Priebus knows all this, of course; Ed Martin made sure of it, despite the risk to himself personally (the RNC has already inquired in Missouri about unseating Martin). Erickson knows all of this as well, but feels his own corn pone is too tightly intertwined with Priebus, Perry, and other big names that are indebted within the orbit of the Barbours.

        At the end of the day, it is sad that Erickson and redstate are only willing to support McDaniel so far, and no further. But it is good of Erickson and redstate that they DID support McDaniel, as far as they were willing to. I wish they had more gumption; but one has to pick battles carefully, and for Erickson, picking a fight with Priebus was a bridge too far. The question of whether to censure Barbour, is not one that Erickson was willing to fight for, this time around.

        By way of analogy, the question of whether to impeach Obama is a tricky one; historically, attempting to impeach in partisan fashion will *boost* the approval-rating of the target (this happened with Bill Clinton in late 1998). Palin and Allen West and Steve Stockman are pushing for impeachment proceedings, but plenty of sitting repubs are not, either because they think it will be counterproductive, or because they think it will have a low chance of success. Erickson definitely has corn pone to protect, but I also think that the motion to censure Barbour, and/or to get Priebus to say anything on the record, has a low chance of success. Does this “minor controversy” henceforth make Erickson a sunshine patriot, a member of the teastablishment like Ann Coulter, who talks a good game (usually) but when push comes to shove always backs Christie? Prolly not, but it is pretty worrisome.

        Personally, having no corn pone on the line, I think the rest of us should continue pushing for Barbour to lose his RNC seat (folks in Mississippi need to get involved at the county level so they can be delegates to the upcoming MSGOP convention where both Henry Barbour and state chair Nosef are up for re-election). I also think we should keep pushing to get individual RNC members to go on record with their stance, and similarly, keep pushing to get sitting repubs (and those up for election) on record with their stance. Were the slimy tactics in Mississippi valid? Is voter-ID and other election integrity work inherently racist? Is the tea party inherently racist? Tea party folks want to know.

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