Kenneth Vogel on the Mark Williams affair:
When a group called the National Tea Party Federation took it upon itself to read California radio host Mark Williams and the Tea Party Express out of the insurgent movement because of Williams's mocking and racially tinged attack on the NAACP, the media seized on the episode as evidence of the tea party movement's struggle to purge racism from its ranks.
But for tea party organizers, who for months have grappled with what they contend are false allegations of racism, the incident highlighted a problem they believe is a more serious threat to the tea party's longevity and effectiveness: the petty political disputes among rival leaders and groups competing, sometimes clumsily, to be the voice of a decentralized movement.
To be sure, most tea party activists and leaders agreed with the need to condemn Williams's attack, but the spectacle of the media breathlessly covering a self-appointed tea party spokesman being cast out of the movement by a self-appointed tea party police agency left many activists and leaders concerned that the movement is losing its grass-roots grounding.
"If we're not successful, it'll probably be due to groups like (National Tea Party Federation and Tea Party Express)," predicted Everett Wilkinson, coordinator of the South Florida chapter of the influential Tea Party Patriots umbrella group.
His group's local coordinators voted not to associate with either the Tea Party Express or the federation because, as Wikinson puts it, those groups "aren't holding meetings in local restaurants across the country to plan local rallies. They're the people who are drawing salaries and are sending out e-mails asking for money."
Whole thing here.