Too much tea?

Fil­istro has writ­ten copi­ous prose about the Tea Party, and her belief in its des­tiny to rend the Repub­li­can Party in two. But right now, it seems that the Repub­li­can Party has had its fill of tea.

We saw how the Tea Party cost Repub­li­cans as many as three Sen­ate seats this last elec­tion cycle, by replac­ing lead­ing mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans with extremely con­ser­v­a­tive Tea Partiers in the pri­mary elec­tions. Three seats would have been enough to have 50 Repub­li­cans, and pos­si­bly a defec­tion on the part of Sen­a­tor Joe Lieber­man (I-​​CT), which would have handed the Sen­ate to the Republicans.

And, more recently, we saw how the Tea Party scut­tled sev­eral deals on the national debt, con­tribut­ing in part to the recent Stan­dard & Poor’s down­grade in United States debt.

To party lead­er­ship, this is ter­ri­ble. When their cho­sen can­di­dates don’t win the pri­maries, and then the result­ing Repub­li­can on the bal­lot for the gen­eral elec­tion loses, they lose con­trol. After all, how much power can they have over mem­bers who cau­cus with the other guys? But even when their cho­sen can­di­dates don’t win the pri­maries, and then the result­ing Repub­li­can on the bal­lot for the gen­eral elec­tion wins, they still lose con­trol. After all, how much loy­alty do mem­bers have for party lead­er­ship that opposed them in the first place, and gave lit­tle to no sup­port in their ulti­mate election?

And so the O part of the GOP is fight­ing back.

In New Hamp­shire this week, the state Repub­li­can Party chair­man, a Tea Partier, is about to be ousted. In Vir­ginia, George “macaca” Allen is beat­ing Tea Party favorite Jamie Radtke in the lat­est PPP poll by a ten-​​to-​​one mar­gin. In Utah, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jason Chaf­fetz was tapped by the Tea Party to do to Sen­a­tor Orrin Hatch what Sen­a­tor Mike Lee did to Bob Ben­nett. He announced this week that he’s not going to even try. We’re start­ing to hear rum­blings of Olympia Snowe, the most lib­eral of the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans, pre­dicted to eas­ily shake off her Tea Party com­pe­ti­tion in Maine.

All of this has led me to wonder…has the Tea Party reached its end with the Repub­li­can Party? And, if so, what’s next? Will they sit qui­etly and allow the Repub­li­can Party to return to the party of the old guard? Will they stomp off and for­mally form another party? What do you think?