Dan Quayle, this weekend, in the Washington Post, wrote an op-ed piece discussing his attitude toward the Tea Party movement. Yesterday, he did an on-line chat where he answered questions from readers about the article.

First, let me say that I met Quayle a few times while he was a senator and always felt badly the way he was caricatured in the media. I always felt that he was a thoughtful senator, maybe not ready to be thrust into national politics in 1988, but over time could have developed into a statesman.

In his article, he makes clear the problem that the Tea Party poses for Republicans. They are overwhelmingly Republican/conservative but are embittered by the Washington establishment. Although they are particularly upset with Obama and the Democrats, the expansion of federal government under Bush and the Republican Congress make them none too happy with them either. Well, they either coalesce into the Republicans, providing them with the enthusiastic base they need to prevail in the fall, they form a third party, which ends up dividing potential Republican votes, helping the Democrats, or they decide to not vote at all, which obviously helps the Democrats.

Quayle’s position is that since the Tea Party is concerned primarily with fiscal matters and foreign affairs, they don’t necessarily form an opposition force within the party to social conservatives. So, Republican candidates should provide a voice to Tea Party concerns.

Now Quayle, because of the effect of Perot on his re-election campaign in 1992, is particularly aggrieved, and perhaps rightly so. He sees the midterms this year replicating those results. He sees a number of Tea Party candidates usurping those whom the elites prefer. He makes clear something that most 3rd party advocates don’t wish to hear, that under our system of government, we can ONLY have two parties, that any others are doomed to failure.

But what I think Quayle doesn’t consider is that the Tea Party can never succeed within the current Republican Party. There may be a number of interests represented in the party, but the first among equals is the Club for Growth. They are supported by the moneyed interests, and their only concern is that taxes on the wealthy never increase. They don’t really care about expenditures, the next time you talk to one of their adherents ask them which they would slash, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, or the military. When I’ve done this, they start talking about cutting growth, and eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. Yeah, that’s how you save a trillion dollars – eliminating the waste from the Forest Service.

So the only hope for the Tea Party is to fight these internecine battles. If their candidates lose, hold the Republican victor’s feet to the fire. If their candidate wins, and becomes enraptured with the DC glitter, dump them and try again.