Signs of tension between the mainstream GOP and the Tea Party continue to emerge. Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann declined to let Rep. Paul Ryan's official GOP rebuttal to Obama's State of the Union address speak for all fiscal conservatives, and gave a separate Tea Party response of her own. And Tea Partiers are already gearing up to oppose some Republican incumbents in 2012 — dozens of Tea Party groups have vowed to unite behind a still unnamed candidate to rival longtime Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.). Is a real rift developing between the GOP and Tea Partiers?

Yes, the GOP is distancing itself, and with good reason: It's not just mainstream Republicans who are rejecting the Tea Party, says Patrik Jonsson in The Christian Science Monitor. Even "tea party favorites," including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) have balked at joining the new Senate Tea Party Caucus, which now has just four members. Clearly "the post-Tucson political winds" have shifted. Mainstream America has soured on the Tea Party's angry, "anti-Obama rhetoric," so Republicans are wise to back away.
"Why senators are avoiding the Tea Party Caucus"

Republicans and Tea Partiers still have a common cause: Republicans and Tea Partiers are still on the same team, says Matthew Continetti in The Weekly Standard. "Decades of overspending and overpromising by the federal government" have put us in dire financial straits. Republicans won the November elections because they promised that they would be the "adult party" and impose spending cuts. The "Tea Partying GOP House" has to press on with the hard work of balancing the books. Giving up "would be not only cowardly but politically foolish."
"To boldly go where no party has gone before..."

The Tea Party can focus only on spending; the GOP can't: "Having sold itself in 2010 as the uncompromising champion of Tea Party-fueled fiscal austerity," says Frank Rich in The New York Times, the GOP caucus has now discovered "that most Americans prefer compromise to confrontation and favor balanced budgets in name only." The vast majority of Americans don't share Tea Partiers' obsession with deficit reduction, so if Republicans start slashing popular government programs to satisfy the Tea Party, they could quickly "turn Americans against the Republican Congress."
"The Tea Party wags the dog"