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Reading the tea party leaves

   Leading off today's Buffalo News Opinion section:

- More change - Buffalo News Editorial
   Like the frustrated customer at the office vending machine, the American voter keeps punching the Votingbooth button marked "change." Unlike that unhappy consumer, the U.S. electorate isn't exactly sure what it expects — or wants — to see falling into the dish.
   The risk is that, in different states and congressional districts, change will have such a different meaning that the Congress that assembles next January will be even more riven by partisan and ideological divisions than the one we have now. It will become that much more important, then, for the
grown-ups who run Congress and the White House to show real leadership, working together when they can, moving alone when they must, but never seeking to destroy the other party or faction just for the sake of it.
   Yeah. Right.
   And:
- Voting for kids - Buffalo News Editorial
   Perhaps the most interesting outcome from the recent near-unanimous school budget approvals in Erie and Niagara counties was the sheer number of people who turned out, not necessarily to vote down budgets, but to vote out incumbents.

   Related:
- Big lessons of primaries: What the heck were they? - Liz Sidoti/AP/Buffalo News
   Dazed and confused. The biggest primary night of the season left the two parties struggling Wednesday to figure out their next steps in an increasingly volatile election year. House Republicans tried to explain their costly defeat in a special election in Pennsylvania, a contest they had hoped would launch them toward big gains in November's midterm elections. President Barack Obama failed for a fifth time to push Democratic choices to victory, a troubling sign for the White House.
   Despite the White House support, Sen. Blanche Lincoln was forced into a runoff with union-backed Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in Arkansas and is clinging to her political life. Arlen Specter saw his long Senate career end altogether with Joe Sestak's nomination in Pennsylvania.
   Tea party activists scored a big victory in Kentucky, rejecting Senate Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell's hand-picked GOP nominee - Trey Grayson - for the state's other Senate seat in favor of political upstart Rand Paul.

- The Ad That Did Specter In - Benjamin Sarlin/The Daily Beast

The Story of an Angry Voter - David Brooks/The New York Times
   But these days, the political center is a feckless shell. It has no governing philosophy. Its paragons seem from the outside opportunistic, like Arlen Specter, or caught in some wishy-washy middle, like Blanche Lincoln. The right and left have organized, but the center hasn’t bothered to. The right and left have media outlets and think tanks, but the centrists are content to complain about polarization and go home. By their genteel passivity, moderates have ceded power to the extremes.
-
A smorgasbord, not a tea party - E.J. Dionne/Washington Post/Buffalo News
   In Arizona—nobody’s idea of a liberal state—voters supported a temporary increase in the sales tax from 5.6 to 6.6 cents on the dollar. This, coupled with a large tax increase on businesses and high-income earners endorsed by voters in Oregon earlier this year, suggests a pragmatic electorate that is far less reflexively opposed to taxes or government than tea party cheerleaders would have us believe.
- Target: The federal government - David Broder/Washington Post/Buffalo News
   But mainly it was a mainstream reaction against the centralization of power in the capital, a combination of bank bailouts, health care guarantees and all the other ways in which Washington has found reasons— or excuses—to intervene and to spend money it does not have.
-
The voters have spoken - Johnstown [Penn.] Tribune-Democrat Editorial
   In the end, voters in the 12th Congressional District were less concerned about bringing down Washington than about lifting up western Pennsylvania. By a solid margin, voters chose Democrat Mark Critz over Republican Tim Burns in the special election Tuesday to succeed the late John P. Murtha.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

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