The Tea Party Convention is apparently floundering a little. Members are upset at the $549 ticket price and the $100,000 Sarah Palin will be getting for her appearance. (I imagine a half-empty convention hall with people screaming "tell the lipstick joke again!" before they break into Glenn Beck tears about their love for their country.) They've lost Michelle Bachmann, and when Bachmann figures a place is too crazy to be, well, be scared.

I'm sad, though, because I really hoped that this would be a turning point in American politics. For ten years now, I've been hoping for another schism on the right, for the truly insane to separate themselves from the merely greedy, and it looked like this might be the vehicle. Racism, know-nothing-ism, sexism and various other forms of vitriol all rolled together into a single, seething mass of political ugly, just waiting to get out there and drag the country back to 1843. I was hopeful because this group of people, at their most powerful, isn't more than 30% of the country--which is a terrifying number, to be sure--but it isn't enough to win power on their own. The net effect would be that Republicans would find themselves frozen out and forced to choose sides, because the one thing Democrats and Republicans have been bipartisan at is at making this a two-party country. No room for a third party to muck things up or force coalitions.

It could still happen. You can't stuff crazy back in the box, and this crazy seems to have a special yearning to be free. But crazy also tires itself out and doesn't organize well--downside to being crazy, after all. I hope they hold it together long enough to scare moderates away for a generation, though I'm not all that hopeful it will happen.

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