Now that we’ve gotten the inevitable tea party pun out of the way, here’s the newsy bit: According to the astute analysis of Salon’s Gabriel Winant, the relationship between the GOP’s powers that be and certain sachet-carrying members of the tea party has grown a bit, er, strained of late … all right, that’s enough. Here’s the story. –KA


But in wielding the Tea Party as a rhetorical cudgel against the president and his party, elite Republicans made a crucial miscalculation. By making the approval of the Tea Partiers the measure of legitimacy, they entrusted their own fate to this new group of activists. And now the establishment of the GOP is stuck trying to wrest control of the party back from these ruffians, whom they wanted to exploit without actually empowering.

Out of North Carolina today, there’s a story about Republican leaders trying to put the skids under the congressional campaign of Tea Party candidate Tim D’Annunzio, who’s running to challenge vulnerable Democratic incumbent Rep. Larry Kissell. The state Republican Party has been publicizing D’Annunzio’s past run-ins with the law and his questionable sanity. Apparently, the guy went through a phase in the 1990s in which he claimed to be the messiah and had a lot of theories about the Ark of the Covenant, 1,000-mile-high pyramids, the New Jerusalem — you get the picture.

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