The Tea Party is an important force in Republican politics, but perhaps a negative one in national politics. Writes Joe Klein for Time:
Mark Blumenthal has put together an array of polling that shows the influence of the Tea Party on the Republican Party. The bottom line spells dark times for reasonable conservatives. The Tea Party represents a critical mass of Republican primary votes, and a distinct minority of the general electorate. This means one thing short-term and another in the long run. In the short-term, the Tea Party will have undue influence on issues like the debt ceiling negotiations; longer-term, I suspect they’ll prove a virus expelled by the body politic in 2012. I just hope they don’t totally wreck our economy and international standing between now and then.