Introducing the Tea Party Young Turks
This interview with the young man who's running Heritage Action is a must read for anyone trying to understand the machinations of the current crop of right wing zealots. It's by Club for Growth founder Stephen Moore and even he seems a little bit scared of these guys:
'I really believe we are in a great position right now," says Michael Needham, the 31-year-old president of Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of the nation's largest conservative think tank. By "we" he means the Republican Party and the conservative movement; their "great position" refers to the potential to win the political battle over the government shutdown.
Though Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the public face of the high-risk strategy to "defund" ObamaCare, the masterminds behind it are a new generation of young conservatives, chief among them Mr. Needham. From a tactical view, the strategy has been deployed with precision. In August, only Mr. Cruz and a band of renegade tea-party Republicans in the House favored this approach, and the media collectively scoffed. But by September, House Republicans couldn't pass a budget without attaching the defunding rider that has grounded much of government.
"We rallied the conservative grass roots across the country," Mr. Needham says, and ran ads in more than 100 districts on the health law. It worked. During the August recess, these activists demanded that their members of Congress stop ObamaCare.
To most observers, who think the GOP is losing this fight, Mr. Needham's optimism that Republicans will carry the day may seem astonishing. But Mr. Needham says the second-guessers are wrong.
"We just spent the last three months talking about nothing else but ObamaCare. It has been on the front page of every newspaper. The polls show ObamaCare's more unpopular than ever. People are starting to wake up that it isn't going to work at all," he says. "Even Jon Stewart of 'The Daily Show' is making fun of the law." On Monday, Mr. Stewart had Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a guest, Mr. Needham notes, and the host "bet that he could download every movie ever made before she could log on to the ObamaCare website."
Has the House GOP strategy gone at all awry? Mr. Needham says no. "If conservative groups like Heritage Action hadn't raised the stakes on ObamaCare," he says, "we'd be debating on their side of the football field talking about tax increases, gun control, more spending and amnesty for illegal immigrants." He notes that in addition to remaining steadfast on defunding ObamaCare, he and his allies are also supporting conservative goals such as preserving the spending caps and budget sequester.
They believe they will win --- as long as they exhibit the same strength and fortitude the Democratic Party is allegedly known for:
So what is the endgame—is there any exit strategy short of Mr. Obama rolling over? Mr. Needham admits that ObamaCare will never be repealed as long as Mr. Obama is president, but he still thinks it can be defunded or delayed: "Look, Democrats usually win these fights because they do a better job of not cracking. Obama says he will never blink and we believe him. They're very good at this. We're obviously very bad at it."
At some point, doesn't there have to be a compromise? That's the way the system works, after all. Yes, Mr. Needham agrees, "at some point in this fight somebody has to blink." His mission, he says, is to persuade "the House not to blink first."
He's going to raise a lot of money ...
Read the whole thing. It's wild. If this young fellow is a good example of the young conservatives coming into their own, I think the idea they will "learn their lesson" from this experience is just a little bit optimistic.