Elites have agreed with Tea Party nonsense

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Regarding E.J. Dionne Jr.'s Oct. 18 column, "Now, Please Govern": $24 billion is a lot to pay for nonsense. That's Standard & Poor's estimate of the shutdown and near-default's economic cost.

Republican elites, who encouraged Tea Party nonsense from the beginning, bear a lot of the responsibility. House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey appeared at rallies where speakers questioned the president's religion, place of birth and his patriotism. While Tea Party-affiliated members of Congress attacked the pillars of Western civilization -- science and evidence-based education -- not a word of denunciation from Speaker Boehner, Sen. McConnell or Sen. Toomey.

Then they accommodated the shutdown and near-default strategy. Conservative William Buckley in the 1950s and '60s challenged the Republican Party to reject the paranoid politics and racism of the Tea Party of his day, the John Birch Society. Messrs. Boehner, McConnell and Toomey do not appear to have Buckley's vision, courage or concern for billions wasted.

TOM O'BRIEN
Mt. Lebanon


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