The success of the "tea party" in wresting the House of Representatives from Democrats in 2010 cemented its place as a political force to be reckoned with, but the tea party itself faced a reckoning in 2012. Republicans needed just four seats to take control of the Senate, a task that polls showed was highly achievable -- until tea party extremists defeated more moderate Republicans in several Senate primaries and voters were left having to choose between an unpopular Democrat and a Republican who appeared to have been home-schooled by Tomas de Torquemada. Nowhere was this problem more apparent than Missouri and Indiana, where Rep. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were expected to overcome their Democratic opponents in a romp -- until they opened their mouths. Akin, who infamously opined that women victims of "legitimate rape" had some kind of innate ability to fend off pregnancy, and Mourdock, who said that pregnancy resulting from rape was "something God intended," never recovered politically from their medieval-era statements on sexual assault. But that's not the reason their defeats were among the best outcomes of 2012. It's that both men are reactionary, anti-scientific religious zealots who consider their refusal to compromise a badge of honor and who would have spent their time in the Senate trying ceaselessly to impose their beliefs on a nation of people who don't share them. Good riddance. Above: Akin gives his concession speech in Chesterfield, Mo., on Nov. 6.
Christian Gooden / St. Louis Post-Dispatch / MCT