The New Yorker has a feature on the Tea Party movement and characterizes it this way:
As spring passed into summer, the scores at local Tea Party gatherings turned to hundreds, and then thousands, collecting along the way footloose Ron Paul supporters, goldbugs, evangelicals, Atlas Shruggers, militiamen, strict Constitutionalists, swine-flu skeptics, scattered 9/11 “truthers,” neo-“Birchers,” and, of course, “birthers”—those who remained convinced that the President was a Muslim double agent born in Kenya.
Which one of those stereotypes means "hard-working, middle class American conservative"?
Ben McGrath is the author of the piece and after chronicling the oddities of the past decade, to include the collapse of Detroit and Wall Street, the election of an African American Democratic President, and the "erosion of public trust in élite institutions," as well as possibly the strangest of all, "an obscure state senator who once posed naked for Cosmopolitan emerges, after driving a pickup truck around Massachusetts, as a leading contender to unseat the aforementioned President."
What's shocking? The part that Scott Brown posed naked for Cosmopolitan when he was 22 years old or the part that he drove a pickup truck?
McGrath contends that "American history is dotted with moments like this, when, as the Princeton historian Sean Wilentz says, “panic and vitriol come to the fore,” occasioning a temporary realignment of political interests."
You can read the rest of McGrath's summation of the Tea Party movement, including his opinion of Dick Armey whom he characterizes as "an absent-minded professor in cowboy boots," here.