For the protesters, it was all over but the shouting. As isolated as their organizers insisted they were, the moronic incidents discredited whatever points they were trying to make.

All they did was provide a photo opportunity-opportunity for Democratic leaders, who could lock arms and use the powerful symbolism of the civil rights movement to make their final case for healthcare reform.

So what did the frenzied hatred mean? Did it represent the true feelings of the loud majority in the crowd? They say it did not ... just isolated incidents. So maybe it was a sign of progress.

In the old days the members of a crazed mob would boast about their prejudice, wear it proudly on their robes and hoods. By "old days" I mean a generation ago. Now, most of them are embarrassed about what spewed out over the weekend. In modern times it is definitely uncool. Moronic.

So suddenly the Tea Partiers over this weekend were exposed less as a fearsome force in politics than one that appeals to the dark impulses of nutcases on the fringe. They certainly were not strong enough to stop the healthcare reform bandwagon from rolling right over them.

If they truly want to be the voice of a new populist movement, they need to make sure that they're not ironically silenced by their noise. Otherwise they'll be dismissed as a bunch of sputtering, hateful simpletons.

It was obvious they are being whipped into their frenzies, exploited by Republicans who are definitely part of the old order they claim to be confronting. Soon they won't even be useful as political pawns. They will be dismissed as just another herd of animals. And ignored. That would cause them to go even crazier and more hateful. And dangerous.

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