The power of the Tea Partiers who refused to raise the US government's debt ceiling this past week, despite the pleading of Republican pundits and the powerful, echoes the 1950s when Sen. Joe McCarthy, Fighting Joe, went after those who thought themselves his masters.
It's true; the right-wing lobbies Club for Growth and FreedomWorks both cheered on the 25 or so Tea Partiers who sabotaged an already reactionary bill from passing in the House. Conservative journalists tell us South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint flexed his Tea Party cred and convinced the South Carolina House delegation to buck House Leader John Boehner and his bill.
But all of this strum and drang had other bankrollers of the Tea Party takeover like the US Chamber of Commerce unhappy. A House aide described the Tea Party freshman as "buckets of crazy" to conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin.
All this reminds me of 1952.
Back then, Maine Sen. Margaret Chase Smith's Declaration of Conscience against Joe McCarthy, signed onto by a few other prominent Republicans in 1950, had faded feebly away. McCarthy had proved himself an able attack dog and his party put him first on the podium of their Republican convention, then on the campaign trail with General Eisenhower, their presidential candidate. Wealthy Republicans paid for him to go on television to attack the Democratic presidential candidate. In the famous speech, he said, "Tonight I shall give you the history of the Democrat candidate ... who endorses and would continue the suicidal Kremlin-shaped policies of this nation."