So who wants to join Rand Paul's "tea-party" caucus?
"I don't know about that," Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) replied with a nervous laugh. "I'm not sure I should be participating in this story."
Republican lawmakers see plenty of good in the tea party, but they also see reasons to worry. The movement, which has ignited passion among conservative voters and pushed big government to the forefront of the 2010 election debate, has also stirred quite a bit of controversy. Voters who don't want to privatize Social Security or withdraw from the United Nations could begin to see the tea party and the Republican Party as one and the same.
It doesn't really matter if the idea of privatizing Social Security or withdrawal from the UN are just as likely as liberals winning four years ago and withdrawing from Europe and South Korea. The Post didn't have any sweaty, nervous moments about the Kucinich wing ot the Democrats emptying out the Pentagon. Murray's just citing the talking points presently being used by Democratic consultants to scare voters. Rand Paul and Sen. John Cornyn spoke on behalf of the tea party candidates, but some GOP establishmentarians rained fire on the Tea Party:
Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), now a D.C. lobbyist, warned that a robust bloc of rabble-rousers spells further Senate dysfunction. "We don't need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples," Lott said in an interview. "As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them."
But Lott said he's not expecting a tea-party sweep. "I still have faith in the visceral judgment of the American people," he said.
Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), who failed to survive his party's nominating process after running afoul of local tea-party activists, told a local Associated Press reporter last week that the GOP had jeopardized its chance to win Senate seats in Republican-leaning states such as Nevada and Kentucky and potentially in Colorado, where tea-party favorite Ken Buck has surged ahead of Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in their primary battle.
The last seven paragraphs of Murray's piece are dedicated to how Democrats plan to defeat tea-party candidates by highlighting their extremism:
Democrats are hopeful that voters will focus on the potential consequences of tea-party proposals as they decide whether to hand over control of Congress to Republicans. Democratic Party officials said their easiest target, given the recent economic meltdown, is the push to privatize Social Security. A recent NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found that 48 percent of voters were "very uncomfortable" with the idea of private retirement accounts, while another 18 percent had reservations.
Democrats and their media allies ask voters about whether they support "phasing out" Social Security in favor of private accounts. But previous atttempts at Social Security reform have been much more modest than that. Did NBC ask four years ago if voters were "very uncomfortable" with the notion of "phasing out" private insurance companies and letting the government take over? I highly doubt it.