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Amid all the hoopla over the phony grassroots operation called the tea party, a central and important question gets lost.
Did Republicans recapture control of the House of Representatives because of the tea party or in spite of it?
One can argue that the tea party’s willingness to accept and push questionable candidates cost Republicans in key Senate races. Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell were so far out there that even the zealots who dress up as Uncle Sam or wrap themselves in American flags couldn’t muster up the courage to vote for them.
Without Sarah Palin and the tea party’s intervention in Delaware, Mike Castle would have captured the GOP nomination but Castle is — God forbid–a moderate and there’s just no room in the tea party universe for moderation.
Polls show Castle would have cruised to victory in a win the GOP needed but Christine O’Donnell was a flawed candidate with fudged credentials and a persona so flaky that she made Palin seem smart.
And this was the year that Republicans could finally send Nevada casino bagman Harry Reid packing. The Senate majority leader’s public approval rating in his home state was so low that a banana-chomping monkey could have taken the seat.
But the tea party went even lower on the evolutionary chain and came up with Sharron Angle, a devisive extreme right-wing troglodyte with a penchant for off-the-wall statements.
Two vital Senate races, two lame-brained candidates. The endorsement of the Tea Party’s chief flake — Sarah Palin — was apparently the only qualification needed to meet the fledgling party’s incredibly thin standards.
In an election year where public anger towards President Barack Obama and his Democratic co-conspirators were so high it is entirely feasible that Republicans would have won control of the House without help from the fruitcakes of the tea party.
And the tea party’s presence — in the end — probably hurt the GOP more than it helped.