In the Arena

Whither the Repubs?

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Lamar Alexander. Saxby Chambliss. Lindsey Graham. What do they have in common? Well, they’re all members of the Republican Senate sanity caucus (except for Graham’s occasional flights of neocon fantasy).  And each may be facing a crazy-nut rightwing challenge in 2014.

The latest polling from Georgia show Herman Cain–yes, the comprehensively uniformed former presidential candidate–leading Chambliss, an estimable member of the Gang of Six who has favored increased revenues as part of a balanced deal, by a significant margin in a Republican primary. Graham and Alexander may be facing Tea Party challenges as well.

All of which to say that the path of Republican reform that seems so obvious in Washington–toward a more sensible centrist conservatism–may not be so obvious on the ground. The fact is, not only these high profile Senators, but any Republican member of Congress who votes for revenue increases of any sort, may be looking at a Tea Party primary…and given the ardor of the Teasies, that is a daunting prospect. We may have to suffer through another cycle or two of the lunatics running the asylum, which may be good for the Democratic majority in the short run, but bad for the country.