Continetti makes an important point in passing:
When you look at conservative commentary today, you see a lot of people interpreting the rise of the Tea Party and the coming Republican victories as signs that suddenly the country has become indistinguishable from CPAC. I do not see that as the case. While the public has been drifting right on a number of issues, there is the real danger that conservatives and Republicans will over-interpret whatever happens in November, just as liberals and Democrats over-interpreted the 2008 election.
Once again, you stumble upon the truth, Morton!
Long ago, this was my basic assumption about the immediate future of the GOP. They could not cognitively handle that they had supported an administration that spent like left-liberals, poured trillions into nation-building in failed states, fought a war on dramatically false pretenses, authorized illegal torture by presidential decree, lost a major US city, and turned a surplus into a spiraling deficit, leaving no wriggle room for when a storm like the financial collapse of 2008 occurred. So they simply went into denial, and blamed everything on the person who inherited this catastrophe.
Reduced to a purer rump based in the South, they reinforced their worst tendencies, as parties often do after losing elections in landslides. They became more anti-illegal immigrant, they chanted slogans about "liberty or tyranny" rather than offering proposals to solve our many problems, they became older and whiter and angrier. And because of the enduring recession and a centrist attempt to find a way for working poor to afford health insurance, they blamed all their woes on a black communist, taking from whites and giving to minorities. And from this strong elixir, they gained an appearance of strength. They may well do well this fall as a protest vote.
But what then? They do not have the courage or conviction of the British Tories, who are actually cutting spending with a vengeance, while tackling climate change and promoting values like commitment and responsibility for all citizens, gay and straight. And so they will be asked by Obama, if they win back the House, to take a stand on the debt, along the lines of his debt commission. What then? Will they grow up and deal or retreat in Palinite denialism?
I suspect the latter ... which could well lead to a landslide for Obama in 2012. Obama's strength as a moderator and facilitator will be made stronger by a divided Congress. And voters will be very leery of handing the presidency to a Republican if the GOP also runs the Congress (or seems likely to). Unlike Clinton, of course, Obama will also have moved the needle pragmatically leftward - on financial regulation and health insurance, not to speak of foreign policy. On this, I share Charles Krauthammer's argument that the long run still favors Obama. Decisively. And the Republicans are making this more likely, not less, by their extremism and anger.
They are huffing the glue of their own bankrupt ideology. That leads away from power, not toward it.