After months of struggling to harness the energy of newly engaged tea party activists, the conservative establishment — with critical midterm congressional elections on the horizon — is taking aim for the first time at the movement’s extremist elements.
The move has been cast by some conservatives as a modern version of the marginalization of the far-right, anti-communist John Birch Society during the reorganization of the conservative movement spearheaded by William F. Buckley Jr. in the 1960s and 1970s.
“A similar effort will be required today of conservative political and intellectual leaders,” former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote in his column in The Washington Post. “It will not be easy. Sometimes it takes courage to stand before a large crowd and proclaim that two plus two equals four.”
But for Gerson and other conservatives, this is not just an intellectual exercise. They have a very specific political goal: to deprive Democrats and their allies of a potentially potent weapon to use against the GOP in November.
Read More: By Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico