As Senator Marco Rubio said yesterday, “if we had $1 billion for every time I heard the words ‘tea party extremist,’ we could solve this debt problem.”

Bring Back Poppy — Thomas Friedman, NYT

WATCHING today’s Republicans being led around by an extremist Tea Party faction, with no adult supervision, I find my mind drifting back to the late 1980s when I was assigned to cover the administration of George H.W. Bush, who I believe is one of our most underrated presidents. I have long admired the elder Bush for the deftness with which he dealt with the collapse of the Soviet empire. But, in later years, I came to admire him even more for the fact that he believed that math and science were not matters of opinion — a view increasingly rare in today’s G.O.P.

Despite having run on the promise of “Read my lips: No new taxes,” when the deficit started spiraling to dangerous levels under his presidency, Bush agreed to a compromise with Democrats to raise several taxes, along with spending cuts, as part of a 1990 budget deal that helped to pave the way for the prosperity of that decade. It definitely hurt his re-election, but he did it anyway.