“Today the Tea Party strengthened its hold on the Republican Party by ousting Utah's Senator Bob Bennett from the primary. That the Tea Party would consider Bob Bennett – one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate – too liberal, just goes to show how extreme the Tea Party is. This is just the latest battle in the corrosive Republican intra-party civil war that has resulted in the Tea Party devouring two Republicans in just as many weeks. If there was any question before, there should now be no doubt that the Republican leadership has handed the reins to the Tea Party.”Kaine is mostly right. We can draw the following conclusions from the events of this past month.
1) The Republican Party is engaged in a bitter intra-party civil war.
2) The Tea Party represents the far right faction of the Republican Party.
3) The Tea Party is winning the Republican Party's civil war.
4) Any Republican leader who even looks a little moderate is being expelled from their position.
I think where Tim Kaine goes wrong is when he says "[T]he Republican leadership has handed the reigns to the Tea Party.” Give credit where credit is due: the Tea Party seized the reins from the Republican leadership, they weren't handed to them. Charlie Crist didn't want to leave the Republican Party; he was forced out. Bennett fought hard to keep his seat and was crushed. The Republican establishment as represented by Michael Steele, is corrupt and weak. Is it any wonder the establishment is losing the intra-party fight?
On the other hand, I have to laugh when I read posts by Tea Party Republicans where they try to claim that the Tea Party is a free standing, broad-based movement, and not simply the right wing of the Republican Party. The Tea Party is nothing more than a glorified astroturf operation funded by the corporate far right wing of the Republican Party, but it has succeeded brilliantly in wresting control of the Republican Party from its incumbent elected officials and placing that control in the hands of the corporate interests that fund the Tea Party movement.