Remember a couple months ago when militant centrists like David Brooks were giving up on the Republican Party because it had been colonized by the Tea Party virus? “[T]he Republican Party may no longer be a normal party . . .,” he sneered, because “it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.” How's that analysis looking now that we're well into the presidential nominating process?
Let's see. The campaign of the figure most closely associated with the Tea Party, Michele Bachmann, is running on fumes.” Rick Perry, the man Tea Partiers jilted Bachmann for is sinking like a stone. Mitt Romney, in all his non-Tea-Partiness, is still the acknowledged front-runner.
Granted, there’s still widely expressed dissatisfaction among Republicans with the presidential field, but the non-candidates associated most closely with the Tea Party agenda, like Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan and Mike Pence, haven’t seen enough of an opening to leave the sidelines. And from all indications, the last guy dissatisfied Republicans are now trying to entice into the race, Chris Christie, will run to Romney’s left if he does get in.
All told, the Republicans are looking strangely like the party that nominated John McCain, George W. Bush (when his compassionate conservatism was the antidote to Gingrichism), Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush. You might even call it a "normal" political party, if by that you mean a party ready to subordinate ideological purity to electability in its choice of a presidential candidate to go up against a vulnerable incumbent.