The New Republic supports Republicans?

Mike Riggs Contributor

Judging by two stories TNR published today, Washington’s musty left-of-center weekly loves Republicans. Two of its writers, after all, suggest built pieces around these two themes:  Sarah Palin “should drop everything else and lead the Tea Party” and Charlie Crist “should run for Senate as an independent.”

What gives?

Here’s Michelle Cottle on Palin:

…allow me to suggest a better, more meaningful way to serve your country: Step up and save the Tea Party from itself.

After an electrifying start and some tantalizing victories (remember when Scott Brown was the new conservative Superman poised to derail Obamacare?), the Tea Partiers have suffered serious p.r. setbacks of late. The ugliness of the health-care protests at the Capitol and the subsequentthreats and vandalism against congressional Dems who voted for the bill (whether perpetrated by actual Tea Partiers or simply by their spiritual brethren) spurred some Republican leaders and Tea Party organizers to denounce and distance themselves from the movement’s more noxious antics.

If the Tea Party remains just some mouthy, disruptive, vaguely threatening force with no real structure or accountability, this trend is likely to continue, steadily poisoning the GOP.

As an actual third party, however, the Tea Party could play a different role in American politics: providing a haven and platform for the disgruntled and disillusioned, while freeing the GOP to try and regain some broad-based appeal. Yes, in the short term, Republicans would likely suffer even greater losses as TP candidates siphoned off some of the GOP’s far-right supporters. (A new Quinnipiac poll found that 74 percent of Tea Partiers consider themselves Republicans or Republican-leaning Independents.) But, faced with possible extinction, Republicans would have strong incentive to retool into a party that could once again speak to independents and conservative Dems.

Get that? Cottle sees the Tea Party movement as a gremlin at the controls of a terrifyingly large ship; might Palin invite the gremlins aboard her blindingly fast but mostly image cigarette boat? The big boat will be in safe hands then. Oh, and it might cost moderate Republicans their political cache–and seats in November–but “[t]his development would benefit the entire republic.”

And here’s Jonathan Chait reiterating that Crist should run as an independent:

Yesterday’s debate between Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio doesn’t change my long-held view that Crist will/should run for Senate as an independent.

That “long-held” view reads something like this:

I think [Crist’s] best chance of winning that Senate seat lays in pulling a Specter and running as an independent or, somehow, a Democrat. Maybe Crist stays in the GOP because he thinks the Tea Party fever will pass and a moderate like him will become acceptable again. But if he wants to hold office in 2011 he better find an alternative to the GOP.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more pieces like the above coming from liberal writers. Many of them see the Tea Party as a threat to national stability, thanks in part to the revolutionary image the Tea Partiers are trading on in order to distinguish themselves from run-of-the-mill libertarians and small-gov. types; the rest of the credit goes to the stories the traditional media have written positing racist/violent outliers as the Tea Party median. Add to the mix a sense that Republicans aren’t playing by the rules of politics (see: various procedural stories about “obstructionist” Republicans, in which the writers use all kinds of superlatives to explain just how insane it is that no Republican voted for health care), with the conclusion being that the party has been derailed by its gun-toting, rock-lobbing grassroots, and this is what you get: Liberal writers offering campaign advice to Charlie Crist and Sarah Palin with the pretense that they have the best interests of the Tea Partiers and Republicans in mind.

It would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that headstrong Tea Party candidates can, and likely will, siphon votes from Republican nominees in November.