Mystery Man Gives Marching Orders to Conservatives
By Michael Collins Piper
Sometimes the most significant information about current events—and as to who really runs things in official Washington—is coyly dropped as a simple aside in The Washington Post, often buried in its gossipy “Style” section or its “Fed Page” which features news of interest to the Washington bureaucracy and the capital city’s insiders. These articles are written in a glib, almost humorous, free-style fashion, but they drive home their underlying point all too well.
A perfect example of this subtle manner of news dissemination came on July 5 when the Post (on the aforementioned “Fed” page) featured a profile of 39-year-old Paul Teller who is, by any estimation, clearly one of
the most powerful figures on Capitol Hill and an “unofficial liaison to the tea party movement” on behalf of the Republican Party.
Despite the fact he has never faced the voters in an election and is hardly known at all to the general public, let alone to most grassroots Republicans, whose party policies he plays a major role in dictating, Teller—described by the Post as having been “reared by liberal Jewish parents on Long Island . . . educated by liberals”—is said to exercise “quiet power” as “one of the most influential conservative aides in Congress . . . who can influence the thinking of lawmakers and the outcome of legislation.”
The Post headlined the story, “Once a child of the left, now resolute on the right,” implying that Teller is in the mold of so many of those self-described “former Trotskyites” who emerged as the famed “neo-conservatives” of the Bush era and who are now first and foremost in ruling the Republican Party roost.
Said to be of “ebullient nature, impeccable manners and stealthy determination,” and “a bomb thrower in the shadows,” Teller is executive director of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus of more than 100 GOP members of the House of Representatives who call themselves “conservative.” Through this position, Teller has ensconced himself as a foremost figure admired—and feared—in D.C. policymaking circles.
According to the Post, Teller has “earned the respect of K Street lobbyists and many conservative thinkers.”
Among those touting Teller’s attributes is Grover Norquist—one of the driving forces behind the birth of a certain segment of the tea party movement—who said of Teller: “People trust his judgment and want to know what he has to say.” The fact that Norquist—a member of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) who often postures as if he were a populist—is so enthusiastic about Teller says much. Norquist was a singular force in helping launch and publicize what has come to be known as the “tea party” movement, or at least its neo-con branch.
Teller told the Post that his own thinking and that of the RSC is “very in line” with the tea partiers except, in the Post’s rendition of Teller’s words, “when things get ugly and hate-filled at some tea party rallies.”
The Post quoted Teller directly as saying: “We don’t work with those folks. . . . When you see an otherwise legitimate rally about spending, about liberty, role of government, and then you see one really bad Hitler-type sign, as the token Jew of the RSC staff, maybe that sign hits me harder.”
In fact, tea party rallies are not known to be havens for anti-Jewish or anti-Israel rhetoric or where people boost pro-Hitler placards. Quite the contrary, many tea party participants believe Barack Obama’s policies are
akin to those of the German leader of the mid-20th century, a notion that—while nonsensical—is nonetheless believed by many in the tea party movement, due largely to the constant emphasis about “Hitler and the Nazis” that is drummed up in the major media and in some “alternative” and “patriot” media on a daily basis.
The Post described Teller’s supreme influence over GOP conservatives in the House in a particularly graphic example: on Aug. 4, 2007 Teller—simply by sending out an email message to all of the House RSC conservatives—caused substantial numbers of them, at the last minute, to reverse their votes on an energy-tax bill before Congress that had been initiated by the Republican leadership.
“One by one, in rapid succession,” noted the Post, “the GOP ‘yes’ votes on the electronic voting board changed to ‘no.’ With Teller’s intervention, conservatives had helped kill the Republican bill and embarrass their leaders.”
Teller, by the way, moved to his current post after having served on the staff of Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who is one of the loudest and most enthusiastic Capitol Hill voices for the interests of Israel. Pence recently described how every time the subject of Israel is mentioned on the House floor, he rushes there to hear what is being said.
While Teller claims he is motivated by a devotion to the Constitution and that he places conservative principles before Republican partisanship—which seem to be quite admirable views—the fact that this one unelected individual plays such a powerful behind-the-scenes role in GOP affairs leaves some people unsettled.
Teller’s influence recalls the famous quote from another powerful Jewish conservative—19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli—who, in his novel, Coningsby, attributed these words to a manipulative character modeled on money king Rothschild himself: “So you see . . . that the world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes.”
A journalist specializing in media critique, Michael Collins Piper is the author of The High Priests of War, The New Jerusalem, Dirty Secrets, The Judas Goats, The Golem, Target Traficant and My First Days in the White House All are available from AFP.
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(Issue # 29 & 30, July 19 & 26, 2010)