Rather than form their own political organization, tea party activists appear intent simply on taking over the Republican Party. Knowing third-party candidates rarely get elected in most districts throughout the country, the taxed enough already crowd gained entry through the front door of the pachyderms' tent -- and now are throwing their gracious hosts out the back door.
The latest target is none other than Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. That's right. The same individual the Grand Old Party nominated to be its standard-bearer in the 2008 presidential election. He's now apparently too liberal for his party.
Last weekend, McCain was censured by the Arizona Republican Party.
"Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders," the resolution proclaimed. "Today we are faced with both."
McCain's "continued disservice to our state and nation" was exemplified by his working on immigration reform, not working harder to defund the Affordable Care Act, and for calling tea party darlings such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul "wacko birds."
McCain said the censure was "ludicrous."
"It shows that, again, a very extremist element of the party has taken over the party apparatus," he said.
His own state party has disowned him, and vowed to "no longer support, campaign for or endorse John McCain as our U.S. senator."
The litmus test being imposed by tea partyists seems just as ludicrous to us. Whose standards are being applied?
McCain has received 100-percent ratings from the American Conservative Union, the National Right to Life Committee, the Club for Growth and others. The National Rifle Association gave him a B+, which still doesn't seem too bad. The National Journal had him tied for the title of the Senate's most conservative member in 2011, right along with Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
How times have changed.
We could have understood the Arizona party disowning McCain at an earlier stage in his political career. He was called a maverick precisely because he didn't lockstep with the GOP. He was his own man, and quite capable of getting things accomplished. Of course, that was back in the good old days when Congress wasn't the dysfunctional entity it's become.
But that was years ago. Today's version of John McCain does not conjure up anything "mavericky," as his former running mate Sarah Palin used to proclaim.
McCain is rock-solid conservative and true-blue Republican. Or, at least judging by what the Republican Party used to be.
If GOP voters allow the tea party to throw out icons such as McCain in its quest for ultra-right positions and isolationist strategies, Republicans never will regain control of the White House. "Wacko birds" will not fly in centrist America.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry