I grew up in Maine: no French restaurants, no debutantes balls and no finishing schools. As a result, I still feel unsure of how to handle myself in situations requiring extreme etiquette. So I can only imagine just how daunting this weekend's Tea Party convention -- a for profit endeavor -- must be for the attending "Palinites." But there's no need to feel embarrassed because I've spent the day giving careful thought to six simple rules of right conduct -- pun intended -- which will ensure that you don't accidentally embarrass yourself at a Twenty-First Century Tea Party .
1. Send me a check.
I know that this will seem strange -- me being a liberal at all -- but Tea Party Nation is a for profit entity so it only seems right that I should get paid for this advice. (For sake of ease, just make out your check to the ACLU.)
2. Insist on selective socialism.
No big government means that the bank and auto bailouts are bad, but don't even think about putting your communist hands on Medicare or military spending. If that seems like a contradiction, then you should drinking more of the Kool-Aid flavored tea.
3. Pick leaders who haven't governed recently or at all.
Dick Armey may be feisty now, but he used to be a pillar of the very Beltway that he's currently thundering against. (In the words of Def Leppard, "It's better to burn out than fade away...") Then there's Sarah Palin who I'll grant was a community organizer (mayor of Wasilla) before serving Alaska by resigning from actually governing. And don't forget to claim Senator Brown of Massachusetts as one of your own, at least until he actually goes to bother of supporting something. (It's a pity he couldn't join the party this weekend.)
4. Have a simple plan.
Insist that everyone be angry: stop there. Don't get mired in any details that could divide the movement. Let the libertarians, the gun rights disciples, the nostalgia lovers and the religious conservatives preserve the illusion of common cause. After all, you don't want to be confused for Republicans.
5. Ask Roger Ailes to take better care of himself.
So long as Fox News is with you, there's nothing to fear. Your molehill will continue to be rendered in Alp-like proportions on your very own "news" network. That said, Roger is looking a little corpulent and pale these days, so you might want to insist that he get a Medicare reimbursed checkup and maybe lay off the chips.
6. Wear stockings.
If you're a man, you should probably make this part of your revolutionary re-enactment costume. Nothing says "tea man" like white stocking breaches and shoes with pewter buckles. If you're a woman, then something in black sheer is perfect for that Sarah Palin look. I'm not saying that sex sells, just musing that if Ms. Palin looked like Eleanor Roosevelt, she might not be asked to be prom queen quite so many times.
Follow Michael B. Laskoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mlaskoff