ODD SILENCE FROM A LOUD BUNCH…. How Wall Street operates would seem to be of interest to the Tea Party crowd. After all, this is a matter at the core of many of their ostensible concerns — powerful elites, acting irresponsibly, ignoring the needs of the American mainstream, generating devastating consequences for everyone.

The legislative fight over reforming Wall Street, then, should be of great interest to the so-called “movement.” But as Benjy Sarlin explained, Tea Partiers seem to be taking a pass on the major legislative fight of the day.

Tax Day rallies last week in Washington, D.C., were devoid of signs, slogans, and speeches on the finance bill, and influential right-leaning websites like Red State and Hot Air have all but ignored the issue this week, despite major movement on the Democrats’ legislation. There are some exceptions … but by and large there’s been no high-profile campaign to defeat the bill, and a number of conservative activists concede that the grassroots are inactive.

Dick Armey, president of Tea Party organizer FreedomWorks, acknowledged in an interview that his group has yet to make its mark on the debate.

“We haven’t had a chance to study it,” Armey said.

What an interesting response. The Tea Party crowd didn’t study the health care bill, but the activists opposed it. They didn’t study tax policy, but they’re still whining incessantly about tax increases that haven’t happened. They didn’t study budget policy, but they still think Obama is responsible for huge deficits (he’s not).

But when it comes time to bring some accountability to a financial industry that pushed the global economy to the brink, Armey and his band of confused followers “haven’t had a chance to study it”? Since when does that matter?

Steve M. takes a compelling stab at explaining what’s up:

What’s really happening is that the GOP/teabag complex is having a little trouble getting the messaging on this one right. The big kahuna leaders can read a poll, and they know that, even as skepticism about affirmative government increases, Wall Street reform remains popular with the public at large. So they’re a tad reluctant to send a big ol’ tea party bus out there with anti-reform slogans — that might hurt the movement’s indie cred. They’re reluctant to urge the rank-and-file teabaggers’ Pied Pipers on Fox News to go full bore into transmitting anti-reform talking points — at least not until really solid talking points can be developed.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.