On July 27, Tea Party Nation chief Judson Phillips was given a patina of mainstream media respectability when The Washington Post published an op-ed by him on the debt ceiling crisis. His record, however, raises questions about whether he's deserving of such respectability.
First, there's the question of whether Phillips is truly the tea party leader he portrays himself as. When he put on a "Tea Party Convention" last year, other tea party activists attacked it as an overpriced operation designed to be a money-making enterprise for Phillips. Phillips tried to clamp down on media coverage of the confab, and one convention organizer fell out with Phillips and launched a boycott. Even RedState's Erick Erickson said that Phillips' convention "smells scammy."
An attempt by Phillips to stage a second convention later in 2010 fizzled; it was rescheduled and ultimately canceled. Last week, the Las Vegas hotel that was to host the convention sued Tea Party Nation for $642,000 over the cancellation.
Second, Phillips and Tea Party Nation a history of inflammatory statements that put him far out of the mainstream:
- Tea Party Nation sent an email in support of a candidate running against Rep. Keith Ellison. One of the reasons Ellison should be retired, according to the email, is that "He is the only Muslim member of congress." Phillips later defended the statement: "I am not going to apologize because I'm bothered by a religion that says kill the infidel, especially when I am the infidel."
- Phillips agreed that the Founding Fathers' limiting of voting rights to property owners was a "wise idea."
- Phillips claimed that Obama received campaign contributions from Hamas, adding, "So where does a corrupt, unpopular President from the party of treason go for reelection cash? China, of course."
- A Tea Party Nation email warned that "The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) population in America is headed for extinction and with it our economy, well-being and survival as a uniquely America culture."
- Phillips claimed that "Obama and his regime are not real Americans."
- Phillips repeated what he called a "very believable" story that "the Obama regime ... spent the forty-eight hours prior to the raid" that killed Osama bin Laden "trying to stop it from taking place.
- Phillips asserted that Obama "released a forged birth certificate" and defended birther lawyer Orly Taitz, who "deserve[s] a place among the great lawyers of this country, who fought incredible odds to win justice."
- Phillips called the gay-rights movement part of the "liberal freak show" criticizing Michele Bachmann, adding that "[m]ost Americans do not believe homosexuality (which is only 1-3% of the population) is a good thing, though most Americans are tolerant of most things."
- Phillips said regarding Rep. Barney Frank: "With the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, maybe DOD needs to send Frank a new 'friend' and the DOD budget will do better."
Despite all this, Phillips got to write a Washington Post op-ed. And what did Phillips do with this newfound media credibility? What he usually does. Appearing on the July 28 edition nof Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard, Phillips said of Nancy Pelosi: "I think it's clear the Botox has gotten to her."
Is this someone who has really demonstrated to the media that he should be taken seriously?