Tea Party Anger Trumps Jon Stewart Wit

The cool kids came too late for school.

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The lesson for glum liberals in this election cycle: Jon Stewart ain't the cure for what ails us. Note to selves: democracy's no laughing matter. Note to President Obama: something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin when the Senate's conscience--Russell Feingold, a tragic hero to us--loses on your watch.

Lots of smart swell people flooded the Capitol zone, powered by vanilla skinny decaf lattes, over the weekend. They felt good about themselves doing their civic duty, going to a rally "to restore honor and sanity" with clever repartee and sophisticated signs. They were generally cool people, of that I have no doubt.

But hey, the cool kids came too late for school. The House and Senate roll call for January had already been pretty much set. On the Saturday before Election Day, it was all over.

The Tea Party had energized Republican candidates and organized voters since the spring. Never mind that former Republican House leader Dick Armey, a quintessential shrewd Washington insider, was leading the "outsider" charge behind the scenes. The Tea Party tempest--largely made up of angry older well-off white people--has never clearly identified the source of the movement. But it rose in political opposition to the first African-American president soon enough to deal him a serious blow less than two years after he took office.

In other words, the Starbucks scene and demographic--those who elected Barack Obama in a rare wave of spirit and cohesion--are no match for the riotous Tea Party crowd coming to town.

While tea is served in the streets of Washington, the coffee and latte caucus better make sure their drinks are caffeinated from now on. Comedians can stay in the box next time around. Time is short and a civil war (without arms and cannonballs) is brewing.

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  • See a roundup of editorial cartoons about the Tea Party.