"Governing is heck"

Mark McKinnon, who advised George W. Bush and John McCain, thinks the tea partiers won't back the GOP in power

Published February 26, 2010 9:04PM (EST)

After attending CPAC, the annual conservative conference here, I wrote a story earlier this week asking how Republicans would manage to bring the tea party movement -- which they're courting aggressively -- into a governing coalition if the GOP wins control of the House and/or the Senate in this fall's elections.

Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, who advised George W. Bush and John McCain in the last three presidential elections, sent me some thoughts on that very question. The story had already been published, but McKinnon's take is worth a look anyhow:

The Tea Party will never be brought into a governing coalition. The Tea Party is not a party, it has become largely a convenient definition for everyone who is disaffected with the federal government. And right now that happens to be a lot of people, so they are getting a lot of attention. Tea Partiers share a deep anger and intense frustration but have no clear plan or common agenda.

So Republicans have a lot in common with Tea Party [activists], because they oppose most of what is being proposed in Washington and generally take a limited view of government. But, if Republicans take back the House, I suspect they will quickly find themselves the subject of disaffection from the Tea Party crowd as well. With power comes accountability and with accountability comes derision.

Governing is heck.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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