I vaguely agree with Greenwald's assessment of the apparent rude treatment that Delaware's GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell and others in her position as "tea party" "insurgents" are receiving from Republican establishment figures (Karl Rove has been awfully unpleasant)... but of course, one should really look beyond "the apparent." Glenn rightly observes that Ms. O'Donnell, or Sharron Angle, or my fair state's GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, or head Mama Grizzly herself for that matter, really are not, ideologically, anything different than pretty much mainstream conservative Republicans, to wit, Neo-Victorians in their economic and social policies, fascist and imperialist in their view of foreign policy, and somewhere on the spectrum between Mussolini and Hitler in terms of civil liberties and other gratuitous exercises of state power (the last one, at least, seems to be a matter of "bipartisan consensus" these days, and come to think of it... the rest of them aren't necessarily views not held by many if not most establishment Democrats, come to think of it, and as I keep reminding you, on the important stuff... the "two parties" are indistinguishable... hmmm...)
Anyway, Greenwald believes that the (apparent) broadsides (Karl Rove attacked Ms. O'Donnell not for having seemingly aberrant views on evolution or masturbation or Vince Foster or anything, but for having financial problems) are a result of good old bipartisan Washington elitism... in other words, the tea party is their "dirty hippies"... the great Republican unwashed, and the establishment just doesn't like them because, of course... they have no money or "breeding". Maybe this is true of a rich-family-retainer like Rove... but let's give the Republicans their due. Honestly... I've come round to a view, to paraphrase the late Tip O'Neil, that "all politics is faux-cal"... that is to say, follow the money and watch what actually happens... ignore the crap coming out of the politicans' mouths (and especially anything you see or hear on cable). In short, "it's the kabuki, stupid."
Let's suppose that Republicans were actually watching the big picture, and saw Barack Obama send out his press secretary Robert Gibbs to put the House in play. This was most peculiar at the time, given that Democrats had won something like seven House special elections in a row, the Dems had a lot of money in the war chest, Obama's popularity hadn't totally tanked yet, there were lots of House retirements among GOP ranks, etc., etc. Some suggested that the intent was to "fire up the base"... to wit, get good old progressives inspired to write checks, and "not take anything for granted," when, of course, there could be no doubt that the only "base" fired up was the Republicans. And since Gibbs' remarks this summer (which he himself attempted to walk back as did other Democrats)... talk has grown steadily of the inevitability of a GOP win of at least the House, and quite possibly of the Republicans taking control of both houses of Congress. Obama had already done his part to put the Senate in play by (insanely) raiding it for his cabinet-- not just his own seat in Illinois (which may end up in Republican hands), but Biden's in Delaware (which the Republicans just threw back!), Salazar's in Colorado, and potentially even Clinton's in New York (although no one all that viable stepped up to challenge Clinton's replacement, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand). And by picking Kathleen Sebelius as his Health/Human Services Secretary, he rendered her unavailable to potentially win a Senate seat there. Ditto Napolitano from Arizona. So... the Obama Administration clearly said "Game On."
What if... the people who run the Republicans (that is to say, the corporate guys who own both parties, but still have a sentimental spot for the party always more likely to lower capital gains taxes) said, "No way, Obama, are we going to let you stick US with Congress going into 2012. Just like in this South Park episode called "The Losing Edge"... You're not going to make US play this bullsh** game for the next two years." You get saddled with Congress, you big jerk... not us."
Obviously, the Republicans, being the party of older money, have more of it, and so, they have lots of "money" things going on at any given moment. One of their many corporate dirty-tricks projects was "the tea party"... a corporate funded "populist movement" whose ethos consists of scared White people who had been savaged by largely Republican economic policies who could nonetheless manage to blame even more powerless people for their plight, and then get all "energetic" about the whole thing-- older, usually less affluent, exurban, overweight White people screaming about that socialist Obama threatening to take away their Medicare (of course, "they paid for it," even if their actual benefits are hundreds of thousands of times more valuable than "their contributions" to the system)... they were just so adorable! Anyway, any "grass roots movements" that gets the peasants to storm the castle to demand MORE privileges for the aristocracy... is pretty much already a work of genius.
But the real genius came about when someone figured out that, particularly in small "mavericky" states (like... Alaska, or Kentucky, Nevada... or Delaware), the "tea-party movement" could be used to take out Republican Large-E Establishment candidates who would otherwise win. Harry Reid was a political goner... until Sharron Angle edged out a pair of viable candidates in the Republican primary in Nevada. Mike Castle was a mortal lock to win the Delaware general election for Senate, until Mama Grizzly endorsed Christine O'Donnell and handed both a Senate seat and Castle's abandoned House seat to the Democrats. To be sure, although Palin-endorsee Joe Miller might well win in Alaska... it's now in play: Lisa Murkowski, the relatively popular incumbent senator had been a sure thing in Alaska. In short, just as the Obama Administration tried to set in motion a self-fulfilling prophesy that Democrats would lose the House... and presumably the Senate with it... the GOP said "NOT SO FAST..."
And it's bigger than even the Senate. For example, "mavericky" candidates like my own state's Carl Paladino will fire up the base all over the country... not the Republican base, which has a healthy overlap with "the tea party" as it is, and doesn't need any more motivation than they already have... but the Democratic base, which might actually buy the "but they're CRAAAAAAZY" line that's pretty much the only thing the sell-out Democrats have any more to pitch to their base. An otherwise uninteresting election now looks like it has the potential to be far more entertaining, even if not "interesting" in terms of likely outcomes... but there's a distinct possibility that in my state, anyway, tea-party darling Paladino will actually let MORE Democrats keep their House seats in New York than if someone less "colorful" (the absolutely drab grey corporate drone Rick Lazio, for example) were the nominee. Lather, rinse, repeat all over the country, with Establishment Republicans being defeated all over the place... sure, the Republicans can afford a sacrifice of someone like Bob Bennett in Utah on the altar of ideological purity... but to take out Mike Castle too, and unlike in Utah, actually lose the seat to a Democrat and stick the Senate back on Obama... man, that's just priceless.
Well... party on, White dudes. Party on.