Scared straight: How fear has the GOP shaping up

Something has got into the Republican leadership, and that something is: fear. Wonderful, salubrious fear. For this we can thank the Tea Party movement, for several reasons. The first is that, while our European cousins are out rioting in the street for more and more government spending, the one significant, genuinely popular movement afoot in American politics is demanding the opposite. No Washington poobah wants to get yelled at by rowdy constituents at a town-hall meeting back in the district. They really hate that…

The second reason used to dabble in witchcraft. Say what you like about Christine O’Donnell and her incompetent nut-cluster of a campaign, she showed the Republican establishment that the Tea Party, and the fiscally discontent at large, are willing to run a kamikaze candidate against any RINO target of opportunity. And not all of the challengers are going to be O’Donnell-type buffoons. Sharron Angle was a much more serious candidate and ran a much more serious campaign. Pat Toomey chased Arlen Specter out of the Republican party and then put the smackdown on his Democratic opponent — a retired admiral, let’s remember, not some wild-eyed hippie — in the general. Pat Toomey scares the old guard. They do not want to see a dozen Pat Toomeys showing up in Republican primaries next time around. Kay Bailey Hutchison does not want some Stetson-wearing Toomey showing up in her backyard.