The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


December 29, 2012

The Worst Year in Washington: The Tea Party



Huelskamp's victory, of course, was Pyrrhic. With Boehner marginalized, Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, have been left to sort out a fiscal cliff deal — one that almost certainly will be worse for Republicans than what Boehner proposed.

- - -

It wasn't just in legislative battles where the tea party proved a point but lost the fight in 2012.

Indiana's Senate race showed the promise and peril of the movement. Sen. Dick Lugar, who was first elected in 1976 and had been easily re-elected since then, faced a primary challenge from his ideological right from state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a little-known but decidedly more tea-party-friendly candidate.

Lugar's problems weren't solely ideological — he didn't live in the state, rarely visited it and ignored advice from national party strategists to take Mourdock's challenge seriously. But the sense that he tended toward moderation and, gasp, occasionally supported Obama on matters of foreign policy, didn't sit well with the GOP primary electorate.

Mourdock summed up his view of government succinctly the day after he beat Lugar. "I don't think there's going to be a lot of successful compromise," he said on CNN. "I hope to build a conservative majority in the U.S. Senate so bipartisanship becomes Democrats joining Republicans to roll back the size of government."

He never got a chance to see that vision realized, because of a bit of political hara-kiri he committed in a late-October debate with Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly. Asked about abortion, Mourdock paused, then said that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen."

Days later, Mitt Romney carried the Hoosier State by 10 points, but Mourdock lost to Donnelly by six points — a defeat that establishment Republicans immediately used to argue that the tea party's political compass was either badly miscalibrated or nonexistent.

Text Only
  • 2012: The Valley in Review

    A look at the Valley's top stories each month in 2012. Compiled by Jim Birt and Stacy Hinck of The Daily Item.

    December 29, 2012

  • 2012: Voter ID law motivated Valley Dems

    A controversial Voter ID law, the splitting of the Valley into two congressional districts and Mitt Romney’s victories in all Valley counties in the race for the presidency highlighted a topsy-turvy year in Pennsylvania politics.

    December 29, 2012

  • Paterno_Joe Paterno family challenges Louis Freeh's conclusions

    STATE COLLEGE — Joe Paterno's family released its response to Penn State's report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal Sunday, attacking Louis Freeh's conclusion that the coach hid sex abuse allegations against his longtime assistant.

    February 11, 2013 1 Photo

  • Bad Year in Washington: Mitt Romney//

    Remember Mitt Romney? Tall guy, slightly awkward. Looks like a 1950s matinee idol.

    December 29, 2012

  • Bad Year in Washington: David Petraeus

    At the start of the year, retired Gen. David Petraeus was flying high. He was the director of the CIA and was often mentioned as a prospective presidential candidate.

    December 29, 2012

  • The Worst Year in Washington: The Tea Party

    The Gadsden flag, which flew proudly over the 2010 midterm elections, now lies in tatters — rent by internal disagreements, losses among its most visible standard-bearers and a growing sense that the tea party movement, which once looked like it could transform American politics, will soon be nothing more than a blip in the country's collective memory.

    December 29, 2012

  • Armstrong, Houston Among Notable Deaths of 2012//

    The first man on the moon, the first U.S. woman in space and the first black Federal Reserve member were among the notable deaths in 2012.

    December 29, 2012

  • The year in TV - from bad to worse

    Let’s get the bad news out of the way first as we recap the year in TV.

    December 29, 2012

  • Top music of 2012


    Maybe it was all the destruction from superstorm Sandy, the ugliness of the lengthy presidential campaign, or all the senseless killings, like the ones in Newtown, Conn., but so much of the music that people sought out in 2012 was fun and escapist.

    December 29, 2012

  • Top 10 books of 2012

    The year 2012 was memorable for the literary world in many ways.

    December 29, 2012

The Daily Marquee