The left likes to paint the Tea Partiers as wingnuts, so it’s time to dispel some misconceptions, writes Ross Douthat. One myth: the Tea Party will be disastrous for the GOP. In fact—Rich Iott, Christine O'Donnell, and Carl Paladino aside—it's backed some very electable candidates, like Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey. As for the claim that they’re “puppets of the rich,” a nod to the buzz-generating New Yorker profile on the Koch brothers, “it’s more likely that the money is following the public mood than the other way around,” writes Douthat for the New York Times.
Some label the Tea Partiers hypocrites, calling them out for slamming government spending yet embracing Social Security and Medicare. This may be the most “convincing” liberal criticism—but there are Tea Partiers who defy it: See Rand Paul's support for higher Medicare deductibles. “If Tea Party standard-bearers end up being as hypocritical on entitlements as most American politicians, then this liberal narrative, at least, will have been vindicated," he writes. "For the sake of the country’s finances, liberals should hope that the Tea Party proves their most convincing story wrong.”
(Read more Tea Party stories.)