When a Tea Party insurgency against "establishment" Republican Dede Scozzafava in New York's 23rd congressional district handed a safe GOP seat to the Democrats in 2009, "liberals hoped it was the start of a trend," says David Weigel in Slate. And it was, but not in the way the left desired. Now, with Tea Partier Joe Miller toppling Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in Alaska, "Republican insurgents have this stuff down to a science" — get on the base's radar by trashing the GOP establishment to influential bloggers, scare the mainstream media, go from being a candidate to a cause, win. Oddly, this is great for "establishment" Republicans, Weigel says. They lose some candidates, but gain an army of motivated, savvy political guerrillas, who are suddenly "revved up" to fight for the GOP, instead of against it. Here, an excerpt:
The life of an Establishment Republican used to be simple. If you dodged scandal and could produce polls showing you could get re-elected, the party back in Washington would go to bat for you. You'd win. Your biggest threat came from a group called the Club for Growth, a well-funded political machine that bundles money and bombs the airwaves on behalf of candidates who challenge wrong-voting "Republicans in Name Only"—RINOs. Stay out of the Club for Growth's way, and you're safe.
This is not how it worked in Alaska. Shortly after Alaska attorney Joe Miller launched his primary bid against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, he met with the Club for Growth to make his case for an endorsement. He didn't get it....
SEE MORE OF THE WEEK'S COVERAGE OF THE TEA PARTY:
• Prison camps for welfare recipients?
• The billionaire Koch brothers: Tea Party puppetmasters?
• The evolution of the word 'tea bagger'