I continue to believe that the Tea Party's willingness to lose with political-outsider conservatives rather than win with establishment moderates has played an important role in recent policy debates.
But Sen. Lisa Murkowski is turning into a great example of why the Tea Party-type activists should nevertheless quickly study up on how to ensure the quality and viability of their candidates. The news that Murkowski backs federal funding for Planned Parenthood should fill conservatives with regret that the Tea Party-backed Alaskan primary winner Joe Miller, a pro-lifer, wasn't a little more polished.
In the midst of everything else that is happening in politics -- spending, health care, etc. -- the conservative movement finds itself with an opportunity to strike a significant blow against the largest proponent of abortion by defunding Planned Parenthood. It should go without saying that Murkowski's advocacy isn't helpful or timely.
Of course, one complicating fact is that Joe Miller won the primary and probably would have won the general election if Murkowski had not undertaken a third-party, write-in campaign. So the lesson could just as easily be that Tea Party folks should remember that the Republican Party won't miss a chance to undermine their good efforts.
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