I won't get into the different factions and all the manuveuring among spokespeople -- I would rather speak more generally about the possibility of an evolving movement. Washinton DC and the political class will attempt to get the Tea Party into the political arena where they can co-opt the movement or exploit it for their own purposes -- the Machiavellians know the political games.
From what I've read, some of the Tea Party members understand the value of being decentralized and nimble. Once a group of activists are mired in political games, the purpose of the activism is transformed into a blind struggle to win at all costs -- to control and manipulate -- to gain power and influence. But, what is the true purpose of the movement?
The way I see it, is the Tea Party wants to limit government and stop the wild spending, to restore adherence to the Constitution and return power to the people to lead their lives without government cenral planning and social engineering, which entails economic freedom.
So, first, a movement which wants to limit power and promote freedom must practice what they preach, and I have been inspired by how most in the movement have uderstood this so far. Creating leaders who demand loyalty and submission to leadership authority would be counterproductive for a movement which is establsihed on the idea of limited power and freedom.
When you try to control a large group of independent individuals, you are beoming a part of the problem. From my perspective, the movement is about ideas, learning from history, resisting a command and control State, and regaining economic and personal power. This is done on an individual basis one person at a time, not from following a collective party line. Each individual has to make his/her education and mission personal. Leaders are for people who can't think for themselves, or can't muster the enthusiasm to act without external motivation. Natural leaders will always emerge in a group with common interests, but it's an informal emergence which is never made official with a set of rules -- it's just that some voices are listened to more closely than others, and some examples of behavior are better to admire. As long as the natural leaders have no power of command, it allows the group to maintain their flexibility and internal inspiration. Leaders are just individuals with admirable qualities, but, still, all individuals are led by their reason and conscience, based on what they've learned, always open to new ideas and better ways of dealing with the world and the people in it.
I see this movement as a movement of ideas which creates a virtual community of inspired individuals who together can change the system in Washington, even if they never gathered in one place together or never held up a sign. It's sort of like the free market where millions of interactions are taking place at all times among people who know only a very small portion of the actors -- but the market is based on certain ideas which all accept, and there are rules of fairness which all obey -- if they don't obey the rules of fairness, then they face the consequences.
This kind of movement is outside the traditional political realm and escapes the clutches of political operatives -- it's a private transformaion of heart and mind -- it's a set of prinicples -- it's about the marketplace of ideas, not the regulatory actions of government ot the power of a party. It's about the power of one, not the collective will manipulated from above. As long as the movement stays individual-friendly and flexible, loosely connected by principles and the love of liberty and economic freedom, it will be a power for good.