Title of a Jonathan Chait blog post:
It’s Paul Ryan's Party: With Romney VP Pick, Movement Conservatives Openly Control GOP at LastChait's conclusion:
... Ryan's nomination represents an important historical marker and the completion of a 50-year struggle. Starting in the early sixties, conservative activists set out to seize control of the Republican Party. At the time the party was firmly in the hands of Establishmentarians who had made their peace with the New Deal....But why does Ryan's nomination represent the moment when power was handed over to the crazies any more than, say, the entire 2012 GOP campaign up to now, in which even the supposedly sane Mitt Romney embraced global-warming denialism and a birther as a top donor/surrogate and the McCarthyite notion that Barack Obama isn't sufficiently American -- and still was regarded as a moderate squish within the party? Why is this the moment of the handover of the party to the crazies any more than the Tea Party year of 2010, and the teabaggers' subsequent budget brinkmanship? Or 2008, when John McCain recanted on previous moderate views on taxes and immigration, then threw in his lot with both Sarah Palin and the neo-red-baiter Joe Wurzelbacher? Or 2002, when the decision to pursue war in Iraq in 2002 was both neocon wish fulfillment and a Karl Rove wedge-issue strategy for the midterms? Or, in retrospect, 2000, when Dick Cheney chose himself as George W. Bush's running mate? Or 1998, when Republicans were defeated in the midterms and still chose to pursue impeachment? Or Newt Gingrich's 1994? Those weren't moments when the extremists were openly in charge?
Over time the movement and the party have grown synonymous, and Ryan's nominations represents a moment when the conservative movement ceased to control the politicians from behind the scenes and openly assumed the mantle of power.
The GOP has been in the hands of the crazies for a long time, and if Chait thinks this is the moment when that became official, it suggests that he's under the influence of the rest of the press corps, which has long been in denial about the dominance of the lunatics.
And that denial will continue. If Romney and Ryan lose, the press will tell us that all that craziness is over now and Democrats and Republicans will soon join hands and dance a jolly hippie dance in the spirit of bipartisanship. Hell, even if Romney and Ryan eke out a win, we'll be told that Ryan and the congressional faction he represents won't really be in charge, because the guy at the top of the ticket is really moderate at his core, and will undoubtedly be cognizant of the fact that his victory was a narrow one and he'll need to govern from the center -- y'know, pretty much what the press said about George W. Bush after the 2000 election.
As far as most of the press is concerned, it's never the moment when the crazies are clearly in charge. I don't know what it would take for most journalists and pundits to acknowledge that obvious takeover.