Back in what if memory serves was early 2011, I ran into a former Prospect writer and now semi-famous person in the lobby of a building near the Capitol where a bunch of TV stations have studios. We began chatting about the Tea Party, and I suggested that once the Republican presidential primary campaign got underway in earnest in a few months time, all those tricorner hats would be put away as the Republican activists who made up the movement turned their attention to the race to pick their party's standard-bearer, and the Tea Party would peter out. He agreed, and we parted ways, satisfied with our sage prediction that all that unpleasantness would soon be over and the country would return to its prior, more manageable level of political silliness.
OK, so it didn't exactly work out that way. What happened to the Tea Party was more a slow dissipation than a rapid fizzling out, and it still persists. Sure, they aren't organizing any well-attended protests, and the hundreds of Tea Party groups out there aren't able to act together in any meaningful way, but it still exists, after a fashion. There's still a Tea Party Caucus in Congress, run by Michele Bachmann, who remains a member of the House of Representatives, believe it or not. In fact, not long ago some other House Republicans decided to launch a new Tea Party Caucus, and were surprised to learn that the old one still nominally exists.
And today, the Wall Street Journal tells us that the Tea Party is back, baby!