One week ago, President Obama delivered a rather uninspiring state of the union address. That was followed by an uninspiring Republican Party response. Then, rather curiously, there was a "Tea Party" response delivered by Representative Michele Bachmann.
Although the Democrats made appropriate noises about how this amounted to two Republican responses, because Representative Bachmann is a Republican, the choice of Representative Bachmann as the representative of the Tea Party was a curious one.
In the House of Representatives is the Representative Ron Paul, the god-father of the Tea Party, although he declined to join the "Tea Party Caucus" that Representative Bachmann formed. The biggest electoral victory of the Tea Party movement was the election of Senator Randall Paul. Either one would be a better representative of the founding of the Tea Party, although neither exactly represents what they are today. The last thing leaders of either the Democratic or Republican Parties want is giving Ron Paul a national platform through a response to President Obama.
By choosing Representative Bachmann, that makes her the face of the Tea Party, an arrangement that suits both the Republicans and the Democrats. The anti-war platform of the original Tea Party is replaced by Bachmann's refusal to take the nuclear option off the table when dealing with Iran. She brings the desire to have schools teach Intelligent Design to a movement that had never included it before.
The placement of Bachmann actually weakens the Tea Party movement as an independent movement and increases its role as an adjunct of the Republican Party. This weakens the threat the Tea Party poses to Republican Party leadership who were facing a grass roots rebellion. This brings the votes and energy of the Tea Party safely back in to the Republican fold, a great benefit to the Republican Party.
It is also a great benefit to the Democratic Party. Since Bachmann is considered to be less credible of an official, it enables Democrats to paint the whole movement with her lack of credibility. Moreover since the Tea Party movement was too uncompromising, unlike the standard Republican leadership for whom there are few actual ideological differences.
The choice of Bachmann benefits the Republicans and the Democrats at the expense of what independence is left in the Tea Party movement.