Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Pretzel Wing of the GOP

The Tea Party is having a rally today (Wednesday) in Boston. Sarah Palin is there, doing her own special wink-and-wiggle act -- you betcha!

Tea party darling just four months ago, Sen. Scott Brown, the new U.S. senator from Massachusetts, is not. Brown isn’t in on the Tea Party thing, anymore. He’s a Republican. And, apparently he’s a Republican who isn’t necessarily going to walk the GOP line on every issue, either.

Over the last year the Tea Party has looked a lot like an energetic anti-tax wing of the Republican Party. But as we get closer to primaries, and eventually elections, the difference between a loyal Republican and a member of the upstart Tea Party is going to matter more and more.

Which side of the line Palin will choose to stand on will be interesting. It looks like she means to straddle the divide as long as she can. Last year the Tea Party’s mischief seemed to be hurting President Barack Obama’s agenda. So, Republicans cheered them on.

But this year the Tea Party's potential to hurt GOP candidates is a problem.

Republicans running for office may get caught in the middle, between the Tea Party and the Democrats. So GOP candidates wanting to duplicate arch conservative Gov. Bob McDonnell’s run-toward-the-middle strategy of 2009 may not be allowed to do it in 2010. With a strident Tea Party throwing penalty flags at them, pulling them back toward the rightwing fringe, in some states that could split the conservative vote, demoralize the volunteers and tear at the fabric of the GOP's Big Tent.

So, rather than worry about Tea Party shenanigans in 2010, maybe Democrats ought to sit back and enjoy the show, watching Republicans contorting themselves into pretzels in an effort to serve two masters ... and pleasing neither.

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