I don't know what Joan Walsh is thinking here:
... in a few years, the GOP will lose the galvanizing and unifying issue of Barack Hussein Obama. It may be that some of the decline in the popularity of the Tea Party "brand," even among even Republican voters, relates to that: More people recognize that hate him or not, the president won two elections, and he's (probably) not going anywhere, rumblings about impeachment notwithstanding. Meanwhile, GOP voters know, because the GOP establishment has spent a lot of money telling them so, that the Tea Party cost Republicans control of the Senate. "Tea Party" no longer conjures up brave patriots in bright costumes, but losers who've cost the party elections, and whose Obama hatred not only failed to vanquish Obama but tainted the entire party with a toxic smog of racism.She's trying to explain losses by tea party candidates in recent primaries and the decline in the tea party's popularity according to polls, even among Republicans -- but is she really implying that "shrill ... nihilism" is going to cease being a Republican unifying principle, or that once the GOP doesn't have Barack Obama to kick around anymore, it will permanently retire the strategy of rallying the base around the idea of kicking Democrats around?
So the shrill and amateurish nihilism that came to be associated with Tea Party politics has been rejected, while the Tea Party's political and policy demands have mostly been met....
That's not going to happen. Maybe race gives Obama-hate an extra bump, but the GOP voter base is always organized around hate -- hatred of Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as much as of Obama, and in the Bush years, when hatred of powerless elected Democrats wasn't enough, hatred of seemingly powerful celebrities as a substitute: Michael Moore, Dan Rather, Barbra Streisand, Rosie O'Donnell, Sean Penn, the Dixie Chicks. The GOP's "galvanizing issue" is always hatred --- that never changes, and it won't change for the foreseeable future. The only thing that will change is the identity of the enemy. (And yes, if Hillary Clinton doesn't run, the GOP will find a way to turn Martin O'Malley or Elizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand into the worst person on earth.)
A few years ago, Fox News told the rubes that the noblest haters wore the brand "tea party"; that's not true anymore. Chamber of Commerce types as well as Koch-funded organizations bankrolled tea party candidates; that's not true anymore. And, yes, more mainstream Republicans have internalized every tea party idea except shutdowns and default. So of course the tea party is in decline. But Republican nihilism isn't, nor is rallying voters around hate. It won't change.