THE BLOG

Is the Tea Party the New Republican "Brand?"

05/25/2010 11:27 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ever since Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, and right through their 2008 widening House and Senate majorities and Barack Obama's presidential victory, much has been said about the fate of the Republican Party and its "brand."

"The Republican brand is badly damaged," said Mike Huckabee in 2008.

"The Republicans realize that their brand is badly damaged and that there's no heartthrob out there," said George Will in 2007.

"The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti- Reverend Wright, or (if Senator Clinton wins), anti-Clinton campaign, they are simply going to fail," said Newt Gingrich in 2008.

"It takes time to damage a brand," said South Carolina's Republican governor, Mark Sanford in 2007. "It takes even longer to rebuild it." And as we now know, Sanford's a firsthand expert at damaging a brand. The missing philander with the bizarre camping trip story, proved once again that history has one helluva sense of humor.

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So what does the GOP with its "damaged brand" do? It rebrands. Which is exactly what the Tea Party movement represents. The Tea Party is the GOP's unofficial beard. As recent polls have demonstrated, Tea Baggers are little more than Republicans in wolves' clothing. And what's most interesting is how these rapacious wolves are eating their own; anyone not a card-carrying member of the far right wing has been purged (see Bob Bennett, Charlie Crist, Trey Grayson).

Under this rebranding, the party's hardline conservative leadership--Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Eric Cantor and Rep. Mike Pence--have been deemed not conservative enough and have been replaced with rabble-rousing, narrow-minded extremists like Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, who represent the smallest yet most influential faction of the party.

Perhaps the Republican Party ought to rethink this new strategy. Rebranding doesn't always work. Remember "New Coke?" If Rand Paul's self-destructive behavior last week is any indication, "New Republicans" will be just as big a marketing disaster.