Dale Robertson Tea Party NiggarThe National Tea Party Unity convention apparently is a bust. Looks like they weren’t able to make much of a splash in Vegas. Despite their flimsy excuses, it’s clear that turnout was low and they are hoping for more time to boost their numbers. And possibly that October will have folks more interested in the convention.

Originally, this Tea Party was planned to happen the weekend before the Netroots Nation conference hits Vegas. They wanted to upstage one of the most successful progressive conferences that brings together candidates, lawmakers, activists, bloggers, geeks, journalists, nonprofits and more as part of an online-driven movement. This is the 5th year of Netroots Nation and we’re returning to Las Vegas to celebrate. Every year, NN makes the news. And the Tea Party was hoping to steal our thunder. A selection of topics they were planning include:

  • Winning Strategy Against the Left: Bring the Asian-Americans into the Tea Party Movement
  • OBAMA-NOMICS, Unconstitutional Theft of Taxpayer Wealth
  • How to do Voter Registration Drives and Where to Find OUR Voters
  • Youth Involvement-Attracting and Keeping Young Activists in the TPM
  • Women in the Tea Party Movement
  • How to Raise $50,000 in 90 Days for Your Tea Party Group
  • Threat of EMP Attack on the Continental US. A Case Study of a Gov’t Which Has Failed to Prepare
  • Developing Media Platforms With a Capital Focus Approach While Building Your Brand
  • Combating Charges of Racism

That’s a pretty pitiful lineup that manages to combine extreme paranoia, greed and a desperate sense that they need to broaden their base beyond rich, older white male conservatives and figure how to shake the racist label. That’s going to be hard to do given that a major Tea Party founder Dale Robertson specializes in using racist terminology to describe the President including stating that Obama’s visit home during Memorial Day was designed so he could “bump and grind in the hood” while “shooting hoops, smoking cigarettes and goofing-off with his homies.” Um, why not just call him a nigger, straightup? Oh yeah, Robertson already has! (see photo above)

Here’s what Raven Brooks – the intrepid warrior slash executive director of Netroots Nation had to say recently about this turn of events:

A small piece hit CNN’s blog today stating that the National Tea Party Unity convention was moving from its set date of July 15-17 to October 2010. The reasons given by the organizing committee include:

  • “it would more advantageous to hold the convention in the middle of October just prior to the November elections.”
  • “The heat in Las Vegas in July is keeping many who would like to participate from attending.”
  • “We have also received numerous emails from people who were forced to decide between family vacations and attending the convention.”

CNN’s piece basically served as publication of their statement without applying any critical analysis to it. There are some basic questions you should be asking here that don’t even require you to be a veteran event organizer.

To make the point bluntly their stated reasons for moving the convention are bullshit, and CNN buried the real reason this is happening in the story which was “moving back the date allows other Tea Party groups to attend the convention.” In other words they’re two weeks from their event and they’ve got no attendees and no interest in it.

This should be a juicy media story about the staying power of the Tea Party movement. Are they going to keep it going or does the excitement fizzle out at some point? That’s pretty much the first question I’d be asking if I were a reporter covering the Tea Party and this crossed my desk.

But just to drive my point home let me talk a little bit about what would be involved moving an event like this. It’d be a Herculean task that you wouldn’t try simply because you wanted to influence the elections or deal with some attendees complaining about the Vegas heat (when they’d likely rarely leave the hotel anyway). The only reason you’d take this sort of extraordinary action two weeks out is if your event was in imminent danger of completely failing due to lack of attendance and media attention.

[...]most of this Tea Party stuff [is] nothing more than puffed up astroturf and this pretty much proves it. Without conservative donors spending $100,000 to get Sarah Palin to attend or Fox News dedicating tens of hours of coverage to promote events you’re not left with a whole lot. There’s no real movement there, no real organizing being done.

Agreed — Baratunde/Jack Turner and I first met at the original Netroots Nation, then called YearlyKos. What we heard there in part inspired us to launch this troublemaking blog you’re reading right now. Netroots Nation is like getting plugged into an electric socket that also makes you smarter at the same time.

I’m honored to be a member of the board of Netroots Nation and I’d encourage you to consider coming. Tickets to Vegas are always cheap and given the economy, the hotels are pretty reasonable these days. It’s from July 22-25th. I’ll be heading up the African-American Caucus again this year and speaking on a couple of panels. Let me know if you’ve got any questions about Netroots Nation. Until then, let this be a warning to media makers — the Tea Party ain’t nothing but hot air…racist, stankin’ hot air at that.

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