The Tea Party and ISIS are brothers from other mothers. Much, much darker mothers, but just as angry and well armed.
These things don’t happen overnight, they brew and bubble like a witch’s cauldron for years, or decades or even centuries. When US forces invaded Iraq in 2003 in order to achieve for George W. Bush the venerated status of “double war president” they removed the scab from the long festering Sunni/Shia conflict. The only thing that seems to soothe such worried and bloodthirsty brows are strong arm maniacs like Saddam Hussein. Like a game of human Jenga, when Saddam was removed the tower was inevitably coming down. We spent 9 years propping up, fighting and bribing anything that moved in order to keep the tower standing.
Maliki’s “government”, if that term can be so loosely used, of course made no effort to heal the wound by bringing Sunnis in and making them a part of the process. A strong leader would have lead an effort of reconciliation and forgiveness in Iraq. The weak and doomed Malaki government would not, so the wildings out in the hinterlands gathered their resentments and their AKs to march on Baghdad.
Meanwhile, back in the States, venal, cowering Republicans like Eric Cantor have paid lip service to the Tea Party since it’s rise as the culmination of 30 years of hard right propaganda reincarnating the John Birch society as the right flank of a Southern rump party. The weak Republican establishment wed themselves first to the Moral Majority and Christian Right in the late 70s in order to elect Reagan and before long the entire party was spouting nonsense they couldn’t imagine themselves saying a few years before. They began the expelling of moderates as the party of Eisenhower and Nixon, managers and statesmen of varying degrees of honesty, became the party of Falwell and Limbaugh.
They were happy to take the votes of the self-righteous and kowtow to their evangelical beliefs and ends-justify-the-means mentality in order to win the presidency- and repaid them with absolutely no movement on their social issues. Abortion is legal and prayer in schools isn’t, sorry fellas, keep the money and votes flowing Republican and someday we can change that (Not!)! And then as they lost 5 of 6 popular votes and found themselves becoming a Southern rump party, the true believers that had been brainwashed by 30 years of talk radio bluster and bullshit rose up to say that they were the one true faith and they weren’t going to stand for party apostasy anymore. They were sent by God to save the party and the country from the black man who won the White House.
The Tea Party may have begun as a fake grassroots movement financed by Koch Brothers money and organized by Dick Armey’s Americans for Prosperity, but soon the motivated dupes decided that they were the party and the establishment could not control them. Not that surprising that milquetoasts like Michael Steele, Reince Priebus and John Boehner found themselves overwhelmed by firebreathers like Palin, Cruz and the talk radio beast. But to this day they are unable to admit it. They still say in public that they can control the monster, that it won’t destroy them too. Unlike Chief Brody, they see the Great White Tea Party coming but do not realize they need a bigger boat.
The Republican Party of Reagan was bad enough, but now it is the fundamentalist Tea Party, the American Taliban with no mechanism to weed out the fringe, the crazies – the nutty uncle whose rants you ignored at Thanksgiving is now your representative in Washington due to a weak GOP and gerrymandering.
As Republicans keep saying about foreign policy – weakness does indeed invite monsters to fill the vacuum – if only they’d taken the same advice about their own party.