A ‘Tea Party Panel’

A ‘TEA PARTY PANEL’…. We’re accustomed to seeing Sunday show line-ups dominated by Republicans. A couple of months ago, the viewers saw two Republican senators, three Republican House members, three likely Republican presidential candidates … and zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration.

Tomorrow’s guest lists aren’t quite that egregious, but ABC’s “This Week” will have a segment that’s likely to stand out.

The headliner will be Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who certainly seems like a wise choice given the larger circumstances. But after him, host Christiana Amanpour will host a “Tea Party Panel.” From ABC’s press release:

Then, after the first 100 days of the new Republican Congress, the Tea Party has changed the debate in Washington. But for them, was the historic budget deal to cut federal spending a victory or a failure? Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL), Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), and Rep. Allen West (R-FL), all members of the House Tea Party Caucus, come to “This Week” to debate the looming debt crisis, whether they will vote to stop raising the debt limit, and if they are prepared for the potential fallout. And as Donald Trump courts Tea Party supporters as he weighs a bid for the GOP presidential nomination, do they think he can win?

Atrios joked yesterday that the House Progressive Caucus will surely “have their turn next week,” knowing full well that this isn’t going to happen.

In 2009 and 2010, Sunday show line-ups like these were common because of the abundance of far-right activism. In 2011, Sunday show line-ups like these are again common because there’s a GOP majority in the House.

They were common for eight years because of the Bush/Cheney White House. They were common before that because of the Republican Congress.

I’m wondering what the circumstances might be that would tilt the scales in the other direction, but apparently they don’t exist.

Now, there’s a case to be made that Sunday show line-ups are largely irrelevant. The ratings aren’t that imposing, and much of the country doesn’t know these programs even exist. Perhaps. But these shows also help dictate much of the political establishment’s discourse — Joe Six Pack isn’t watching the Sunday shows, but the “Gang of 500” is — and shape the larger debate.

The more Republicans — and in the case of tomorrow’s “Tea Party Panel,” extremely conservative Republicans — dominate the guest slots, the more the conventional wisdom tilts to the right.