Will they be so few as to be merely eccentrics, or so many as to be the new normal?
There is a fine and peculiar balance here between an establishment which regards tea party-sponsored candidates as ignorant and racist, and them becoming the establishment.
This is partly because of the nature of Washington and especially the political media. These heretofore nutters become people of influence. Influence is more important than reason and intelligence.
The American establishment, curiously, is extremely accepting. It’s the outlandish and the peculiar—the nutters and their adherents—who are not. These are, after all, the people who, against all democratic norms and procedures, continue to insist that the president is illegitimate.
There is not, from the liberal side, with its love of being part of the establishment, a similar lobby whose raison d'être is to reject and demonize and mock and deride and undermine the new nutter class that, very likely, is about to come to power.
The liberal press, so derided by the conservative press, will, in short order, if the nutters prevail, treat them in incredibly earnest fashion.
In 1994, when Newt Gingrich’s nutters came to power, they were, in no time, the toast of the town.
It is true that these new nutters are even nuttier, that we are talking about a whole new level of vituperation and rejectionism and antiestablishmentarianism. There will be, for a moment anyway, a sense of shock and wonder—but then comes business as usual.
Perhaps this is about the fundamental strength of the establishment. That whoever joins it, by whatever hook or crook, becomes part of it. That the nutters, by getting elected and coming to Washington, are, in a flash, transformed into as ineffective bureaucrats as the non-nutters—so we are all safe.
But, too, liberals may just be, by nature, mealy mouths and suck-ups and, also, optimists, who can, somehow, remarkably, find a way to treat most anyone as though they, too, no matter how outlandish and peculiar, want what the liberals want—ie, to be part of the establishment.
The conservatives have accused the liberals for so long of being snobbish and arch and biased, that they actually have become extremely leveled and bland and tolerant.
In no time at all we’ll be regarding the nutters as just part of the partisan process.
More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
How many nutters will have the opportunity to come to Washington after November?