…And now Eric Cantor tries to talk some sense into his caucus. That should work! It is his caucus, right?
Nope. Cantor only ‘leads’ the tea party caucus as long as he hews to the maximalist party line. If he backs down then all he will get is anathematized.
RedState ‘controls’ the party now, sort of, in the same way that Limbaugh and FOX News do and the Club For Growth does, but that only lasts so long as they stay in line. Erick Erickson can find himself anathematized just as fast as Cantor.
The suicide primary runs the GOP now. Whatever candidate the establishment puts up, no matter how much cash the overlords throw at a primary, someone like Christine O’Donnell can appear out of nowhere, claim the right flank and win. Michele Bachmann is about to do it to Mitt Romney. Candidates who run for the suicide primary win without money or establishment support because the GOP uses extensive outside institutions to develop issue agendas, contact Reps, mobilize activists and get out the vote*. These groups have taken advantage of social media to build a powerfully resonating echo chamber and basically run on their own power now.
Almost every Republican officeholder is terrified of the suicide primary. It scares them more than Obama does. It plainly scares them more than the prospect of wrecking the country. In a sense it should. Obama might pull off some 14th amendment-like magic trick and save the country, or he might not, but the first bloc of GOP votes that peels off from Boehner’s monolith and lets a Democratic plan pass (any Democratic plan; details irrelevant) will lose their seats in 2013. You can bet money on it.
How does John Boehner peel his herd of frightened lemmings off of the rightmost fringe of politics when his neck is just as vulnerable? It’s a good question.
(*) Normally jobs done by the RNC. I wonder how much of this came from firewalls the GOP built to protect itself from Michael Steele.