The Tea Party: Tamed, Torpedoed, or Top Dog?

According to media reports from liberal and conservative outlets alike, the Tea Party is somewhere between “tamed” and dead — the mainstream right helpfully suggesting the former while the left (which is to say most of the media) gleefully proclaim the latter. At the same time, the liberal message machine has issued new — and completely contradictory — talking points urging desperate Democrats to pronounce authoritatively that the Tea Party has “taken over” the GOP.

They’re all a little bit right, a little bit wrong, and completely missing the point.

With a few important exceptions, notably Ben Sasse’s victory in the Republican US Senate primary in Nebraska and Rep. Tom Cotton’s uncontested nomination in Arkansas which will have him challenging vulnerable Democrat Senator Mark Pryor, the Tea Party (to the extent that it can be talked about as a singular entity) is having a rough go of the 2012 primary season.

On Tuesday, a high-profile challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was overwhelmed, with McConnell receiving 60 percent of the vote to 35 percent for Matt Bevin who, although supported by FreedomWorks and other Tea Party groups, ran a flawed and error-prone campaign. According to CNN, barely concealing its joy at a Tea Party candidate’s loss (even if to the senior Republican in the Senate), “Mitch McConnell crushed the tea party.”

Tea Party candidates also failed to beat “establishment” (whether or not incumbent) candidates in Republican primaries in Georgia, Idaho, and Oregon. This follows other Tea Party losses earlier in the month, including a challenge to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) that left Boehner with nearly 70 percent of the vote in a three-person race.

The least hyperbolic media assessment came from the Wall Street Journal, which noted, “GOP sees primaries taming the tea party.” But it’s all downhill from there: The Washington Post’s resident establishment conservative, Jennifer Rubin, discusses “the tea party’s demise.” Down the hall, the Post’s Jaime Fuller says the Tea Party “isn’t just losing; it’s losing badly.” Writing for Fox News Latino, Rick Sanchez says “Good Bye Tea Party, We Hardly Knew Ye.” CNBC asks hopefully, “Is the tea party over?” And Time magazine suggests, “GOP rolls tea party in primaries” — following the liberal mantra that the Republican Party and the Tea Party are opponents, more the left’s fondest wish than a reality.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:

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