First, we were told that the Tax Day Tea Parties would draw "millions" of Tea Baggers upset about having to swallow government spending and taxes "at over 5000 locations". Then we were told that "up to a million" Tea Baggers would attend at "up to a thousand locations" to spit in the face of big government. That was then pared back to "half a million" Tea Baggers would be squatting at "over 2000 locations nationwide". Tea Bagging has climaxed and gone and we've seen perhaps 500 locations and attendance of less than two hundred fifty thousand people, perhaps even less than one hundred thousand people opening their mouths to voice their displeasure. (See http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=tea-party and http://freedompress.ning.com/forum/topics/tea-party-updates and note that these are figures from those promoting the events so they may be padded).
For the event to have so low a turnout after two weeks of non-stop promotion by Fox News and the backing of all of these heavy hitting Republican think tanks is a statement in itself. Just think about what a few minutes of time on a major nationwide cable network like Fox News costs to buy. Fox News probably wasted $5000 to $10,000 of airtime for every attendee. In the current popular vernacular, this is what is known as an "Epic Fail" http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=epic+fail .
Fox kept talking about how the million-man march only had around half a million attendees some time ago. If CNN or Fox (had it been around then) allowed itself to be used as non-stop marketing for the million man march for two weeks like it did with the Tea Parties, you probably would have had two million men at the million man march.
This failed effort reminds me of previous failed efforts by corporations to manufacture viral videos or other, what would normally be bottom up phenomena. I've covered in previous articles and on an appearance on Fox News how this entire "Tea Parties" event is a sham and a fraud manufactured by the big Republican Think tanks and heavy hitters in the RNC like Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich, Steve Forbes and many others. People do not respond to manufactured efforts to create grassroots movements. I don't care what the reason or their political viewpoints. The few people who did attend were the far right tinfoil hat set as shown in these CNN videos:
What does this effort tell us and what will be the Fallout
The first thing this tells us is how desperate the Republican establishment is to try to put something, anything out there to pull down President Obama's popularity. Obama's job approval since inauguration has been steady at between 60% and 70% http://www.gallup.com/poll/113980/Gallup-Daily-Obama-Job-Approval.aspx . Over two thirds of Americans are confident in Obama's handling of the economy http://www.gallup.com/poll/117415/Americans-Confident-Obama-Economy.aspx . For only the second time in over 50 years, more than half of Americans think the amount they are paying in taxes is fair, or, get this, too low! http://www.gallup.com/poll/117433/Views-Income-Taxes-Among-Positive-1956.aspx . If you turn back the clock by 8-15 years, this kind of popularity was what caused the Republican establishment to go after Bill Clinton non-stop until they could find something with which to tarnish him. Republicans seem to understand that if they let a Democratic President who is popular and is successful with the economy complete his term without putting a blemish on him, the Republican Party is finished for the near future. The power players behind the Republican Party know that Obama's economic plan is going to be successful and they know that when that happens, if you think that Obama is popular now, wait until he brings back the economy. Republicans are desperate to hurt Obama before that happens.
The most dramatic effect of this failure will be felt by Fox News. Fox News sacrificed the remaining shreds of its journalistic integrity to promote these Tea Parties only to have them fail miserably. Just see this pathetic video of Fox News' pandering for this event:
If it begins a stringent program to become "Fair and Balanced" right now, it would take five years for them to be taken seriously again (were they ever taken seriously by anyone other than hard-core far-right ideologues?). Rupert Murdoch reacted to the last crisis at News Corp, the racist cartoon that featured a Chimp as President Obama, by firing one or more managers/editors responsible and reading the riot act to the rest of the folks involved. One wonders how he will handle this monstrous failure by those most responsible for deciding Fox should eschew ethical behavior and promote the Tea Parties. Should Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto and Michelle Malkin, i.e. those Fox News correspondents most visibly responsible for Fox News ownership of Tea Parties' marketing, fear for their jobs? One would think so. As I said in my article yesterday "Tea Parties are a Sham and a Fraud - Part 3" (See below for link), Colleges and Universities going forward will almost certainly use Fox' coverage and ownership of the Tea Parties as a negative example whenever journalistic ethics are taught. I can't see News Corp's board of directors finding that prospect pleasant.
In terms of long-term political fallout, there will not be any. None of the people who attended these events would ever vote Democratic anyway and no one who might vote Democratic would be influenced by the kinds of things these people said or wrote on their signs. Within 3-5 days, none of the rest of America will remember that these Tea Parties happened.