Several months ago, when the Tea Party crusade hit its stride with a Kentucky primary win by Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump GOP senator threatened to hold up bill over provision to honor late political rival: report Conservatives balk over funding bill ahead of shutdown  MORE to succeed retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R), the left went out of its way to link Paul as the puppet behind a larger Republican machine. Democrat operatives quickly labeled Paul and his style of politics as wholly indicative of what the GOP had become.
As predicted, Republicans had reverted to their old-school style of hate politics, the storyline went, making this November a clear choice between “policies of the past” versus the future.
The political cheap shot was an easy one for the likes of Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineBill to bolster gun background checks gains enough support to break filibuster Senators demand cyber deterrence strategy from Trump Two-year defense spending smooths the way to a ready military MORE. The narrative they could build around Paul and other Tea Party activists fit nicely into the party’s attacks, and gave them something to shoot at after being pummeled for months by a sluggish recovery and missteps of their own.
To Democrats and the media, the GOP had let the wingnuts take over. And so long as they were winning, Republican leaders were all too eager to sit back and watch.
But then Christine O’Donnell happened. From out of nowhere, this recycled candidate jumped up and snatched victory from the jaws of establishment Republican Rep. Mike Castle (Del.). What a conundrum that created.
Now all of a sudden, Republicans had taken a big step away from winning control of the Senate. Clearly this wasn’t in the party’s plan, but up until now, everyone was saying the GOP was in control of the Tea Party.
Without missing a beat or even noting their own double-mindedness, pundits and columnists took to warning the country that Republicans had no control of the Tea Party, and such irresponsible behavior threatened to wreak havoc on our way of life (whatever that meant). As Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote on Sept. 14, “The Republicans thought they had the rampaging Tea Party under control. Apparently the Tea Party begs to differ.”
So which is it? Does the Republican Party control the Tea Party or doesn’t it? Is the Tea Party stationed off First Street in the RNC headquarters or not?

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at, and follow him on Twitter at