Meanwhile, the process of choosing a champion to drive Barack Obama out of the White House is not going well at all. With only seven weeks until actual caucus and primary voting begins, how did the movement arrive at this seemingly hopeless state?
Tea folk knew they'd have a fight on their hands, but they weren't prepared for it. They wanted to fight off the Beltway hacks and RINOs who had so disingenuously sucked up to the movement in its early days; the devious Mitt Romney was these types' obvious choice, reflecting as he did their own lack of principle, so Tea Partiers would have to come up with their own candidate. Their chosen method for asserting their interests--namely, by ruthlessly enforcing ideologically rigidity--has proven itself flawed, but they have stuck with it regardless. Despite the electoral defeats of Tea Party candidates like Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell in 2010, to most Tea Partiers the lesson of the midterm elections was that the only thing keeping the Republican Party from an enduring majority was its lack of ideological rigor and its cowardly refusal to adopt total war tactics. The very concept of political "overreach," the term most often applied to the losing side in Ohio's recent Issue 2 battle, is alien to the Tea Party mind, in which extremism in the defense of liberty is never a vice.
As we've seen, the movement has enough size and muscle to give its preferred candidates significant national clout. But with its ideological extremism and insularity, it has also been selecting for candidates who are all but guaranteed to succumb to the intense public scrutiny of a presidential race. It's no accident that we have seen so many Republicans ascend to frontrunner status, only to flame out in glorious balls of fire.