"Citing what he called the “near self-immolation” of House Republicans during the debt-ceiling fiasco, Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, worried in early August that a “large number of Republican primary voters, and even more independent general-election voters, will be wary of supporting a Republican candidate in 2012 if the party looks as if it’s in the grip of an infantile form of conservatism.”"
This article seems to confirm, about as clearly as anything could, the argument that the powers that be within the Republican Party would rather lose the presidential election than win it with a Tea Party type, not because the Tea Party would harm the republic so much as that the Tea Party would displace from positions of power people like Bill Kristol, who is quoted here. I would say that it was not " a self-immolation" during the debt-ceiling fiasco insofar as it was Republicans like Kristol who lit the match that started the blaze! It was only made to look like a "self-immolation" because that is how the likes of Kristol wanted it to look. And, of course, the same motivation exists with regard to dealing with the nation's issues. The Republicans in power will deal with them only in ways that preserve their power within the party, not as might be necessitated by the state of the union. [The same dynamic exists in the Democratic Party as well, which is why Obama never did push for genuine reform of health insurance or for even a public option. A successful reform of health insurance would threaten the power of the Obama wing on the Democratic Party just as successful reforms based on Tea Party proposals would undermine the power of the powers that be within the Republican Party.]
"Party leaders have managed to bleed some of the anti-establishment
intensity out of the movement, Reed said, by slyly embracing Tea Party
sympathizers in Congress, rather than treating them as “those people.”
"Did he mean to say that the party was slowly co-opting the Tea Partiers?
“Trying to,” Reed said. “And that’s the secret to politics: trying to
control a segment of people without those people recognizing that you’re
trying to control them.”"
Here is the citation for the article mentioned and quoted above: