You bet there's "civil war" within the Republican Party, the old guard v. the tea party "wacko birds" - but forgive us if we liberals and progressives aren't weeping tears of sympathy for the conservatives, the old guard, "establishment" Republicans, who, in a Frankenstinian moment, gleefully created this monster. Take John McCain, for instance, who has become one of the Congressional tea party caucus' harshest critics, who has re-invented himself as a party-bucking "maverick" and a "moderate" - does he not remember from whence these tea partiers came? Does he not acknowledge his own role in foisting one of the craziest tea-swigging individuals on the planet on the American public as his vice-presidential running mate? While supposedly sane Republicans posture, today, against the likes of Cruz and Gohmert and Lee and Rubio and other teabaggers who consorted to shut down the government and almost forced the U.S. into a default (and are threatening to do it again), it should be noted, over and over and over, that these same Republicans are the ones who let this particular genie out of the bottle before, during and after the 2008 election. Perhaps if McCain, when picking his running-mate in 2008, hadn't chosen unwisely in Sarah Palin - the tea party darling who can be credited for whipping up a large part of the animus and ferocious hatred against President Obama - we wouldn't have to be battling these particular wacko birds today.
Sure, today, in the wake of the wrecking ball that hit the Republican Party as a result of its out-of-control tea party faction, Republican Jeb Bush is calling out the tea partiers, telling them to "show a little restraint" and accusing them of damaging American's reputation abroad. But just this summer, Jeb Bush made a cameo at a fundraiser for Maine's tea party Governor, Paul LePage - the same guy, incidentally, who compared Obamacare to Hitler’s Gestapo. Jeb Bush praised Paul Ryan, tea party wonk extraordinaire. In 2010, for Pete's sake, Jeb Bush promoted and campaigned for Wisconsin's tea party, union-busting Governor Scott Walker. Given all that, it's a little disingenuous, at best, that Jeb Bush has suddenly decided the tea party is dangerous.
Karl Rove, who was for the tea party long before he was against it, has recently started a movement against the tea party. Of the current crop of tea partiers mucking about, he said, "The 20 or 30 members of the House who have been driving this aren’t a majority, and too often the strategy — the tactic — was ‘Let’s just lay down a marker and force people to be with us' . . . Successful movements inside parties are movements that persuade people . . . The question is, can they persuade? And thus far the jury’s out."
The jury's not out; the jury's in, and the tea party has been condemned by most Americans for their tantrum-throwing - and as early as 2009, progressives were beating the drum that the tea party was a dangerous entity for this country. Although, admittedly, Republican strategist Rove was no fan of Sarah Palin, he initially backed what the tea party stood for, and only now - when elections are at stake, including control of the House - has he taken a firm stand against it.
Though it would be sweet to paint progressives as virtual geniuses who called out the tea party for what it was when it first began baring its teeth in early 2009, the fact is that Republicans who are today bashing the tea party for mucking up the works had the exact same information progressives had about the tea party immediately after President Obama's election in early 2009. Republicans, then, had the same information about the tea party's racist core, the same information about their woefully uninformed positions on everything from taxes to spending to the economy to government's role to the stimulus to TARP, they had the same information about the intent of the tea party to virtually change America's social order, they had identical information we had about the tea party's efforts to revert this country to a time long past when slavery was legal and women didn't have the vote.
Republicans knew all that, and more. But they didn't care, then; the tea party helped them win elections. Now, the tea party is threatening Republican wins, and suddenly, in a big "duh" moment for progressives, Republicans are gravely intoning the danger of the tea party anarchists. And it is worth noting that, in the 2010 midterm elections, when progressives fell asleep at the switch and multitudes of tea party candidates were elected, Republicans - including the Republicans we hear gravely condemning the tea party today - were downright giddy with victory.
Despite an uneasy alliance, Republicans backed what they thought was the winning team when they stood behind the tea party. Perhaps, in the beginning, they figured they'd take what they needed from the teabaggers and leave the rest. What they didn't realize - but what we, progressives, always realized - was that the tea party intended to take what they needed from the Republican Party and leave the rest. Republicans can posture all day long, but the fact is, they let that particular genie out of the bottle, and it's going to be a civil war of epic proportions to stuff it back in.