The tea party, it turns out, isn't done yet with Washington.
Michele Bachmann's commanding victory in Iowa over the weekend was a hard, quick punch in the nose to Washington. No matter how much Democrats like Harry Reid and establishment Republicans would like the tea party to vanish as quickly as their own principles, this tea is still brewing.
The Iowa straw poll, of course, is almost as famous for being the wrong predictor of eventual nominees as it is the actual predictor. But Mrs. Bachmann's convincing win should shut up all the trembling Republicans out there who whine how she really should not be in the race. She is so unelectable, they say.
As it now stands, Michele Bachmann is the least unelectable candidate in the entire Republican field.
Supposed front-runner Mitt Romney (thus anointed by those most fearful of the tea party) has suffered more humiliating nomination losses than just about anybody else running.
Most humiliating about this latest rejection is that he even got beaten by a guy who had not even announced he was running when the voting began.
Only in Washington does a string of uninterrupted failures put you in first place.
Another candidate formerly deemed a front-runner in Washington media circles is the frosted Jon Huntsman Jr., who was happily serving as President Obama's ambassador to China when the media got into a froth about how he would be the one to beat if he came back and ran. I cannot say for sure why he was granted top-tier status by the elites and lured into running, but I suspect it had something to do with the sheer terror insiders have of Sarah Palin beating Mr. Romney in a head-to-head matchup.
Anyone who has watched the GOP debates now knows that Mr. Huntsman is actually an android — so plastic he makes Mr. Romney look natural and hip. If the Ken doll had a better-looking, less-lifelike older brother, Mr. Huntsman would be it.
In the straw poll, he collected a basement-shattering 69 votes. Obviously, Mr. Romney already has cornered the Mormon-robot vote, so Mr. Huntsman probably should go back to China.
Thankfully, Tim Pawlenty already has left the field after Mrs. Bachmann manhandled him during the last debate. Of course, during that same performance, Mrs. Bachmann fueled concerns that she might be a "flake" by momentarily disappearing in the middle of the debate.
The latest entrant to the GOP field, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, appears to have guts and certainly has plenty of executive experience. But he walks and talks eerily like former President George W. Bush.
As one former Bush official said privately: "If George W. Bush was a little too cerebral for ya, then Rick Perry is your man." To Mr. Perry's credit, he did not go to Yale.
No matter how much this Obama nightmare has made people pine for the old Bush days, candidates with the slightest whiff of retreaded tires are always risky.
Perhaps the best news from the past week, and the surest proof that the tea party isn't over, is that Ron Paul came in a very strong second place in the straw poll.
If Ronald Reagan were cocaine for conservative, this guy is full blown conservative crack. He is an ancient warrior who has devoted his life to caging this wild and uncontrollable government and stopping this immoral spending. He is the only candidate for president in our lifetimes who might have earned Ayn Rand's endorsement.
Whether Mr. Paul actually becomes the nominee or not hardly matters anymore. What matters is he was dismissed as a kook four years ago and this year all the other GOP candidates have adopted the old man's philosophies.
• Charles Hurt's column appears Wednesday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org