(Forbes) — In the aftermath of the government shutdown, widely regarded as a self-inflicted political disaster for Republicans, two conspicuous themes deserve attention. The first is the view that the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party is too extreme, and leading the party into the political wilderness. Much of the Republican establishment—if such a thing can be said still to exist—holds this view.

While there is plenty of room to criticize the strategy and tactics of the Tea Party, one wonders whether it is correct to categorically deplore the fact that Republicans in Washington may finally be shedding their long-time Stockholm Syndrome of collaborating with the expansion of government. Almost fifty years after Barry Goldwater famously declared that “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,” it looks like a critical mass of Republicans are finally catching on. It is inconceivable, for example, that today’s House Republicans could be goaded into passing an unfunded entitlement like Medicare Part D as they improvidently did in 2003.

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