Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina imploded on the Glenn Beck radio program this morning when she said she didn't have an opinion on whether the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks.The real question is, how does this reflect on the Tea Partiers?
Medina, who has literally come out of nowhere to quickly become a legitimate candidate in the Republican primary, first laughed when Beck said he had received emails from listeners saying she was a "9/11 truther."
I haven't been following the Texas primaries, but there are suggestions that Medina is pretty strongly linked to the Partiers; another report calls her a "tea party supporter." Certainly the rest of the rhetoric I see on her site fits the mold. She's a rabble-rousing populist running a guerrilla -- or grass-roots, if you will -- campaign.
The Redstate piece above hits at something that I think bears emphasizing: the Tea Party as an organization has done a pretty crap job of vetting those they let speak for them. Witness the Tea Party convention, with its controversial speakers. And now Ms Medina. The trouble with touting anyone who claims to lead a crusade for the people is that anyone can show up.
And now here's Beck, someone very near the center of the Tea Party movement himself, holding another's feet to the fire. I think ultimately that says something positive for the intellectual honesty of the movement. Beck could easily have ignored the question, dropping it as something out of left field, a ridiculous accusation by her political enemies, "old-line conservatives" or otherwise. But he didn't let it go, and that's important.
The movement is perhaps rightly proud of its decentralization, its focus on local groups with similar interests -- but that was the trouble with the first iteration of the United States, too. Some centralization, some degree of coordination, some way of saying, "we stand for these things, and these people speak for us," is needed.