Economist Simon Johnson recaps the immediate and the long-term damage the Tea Party has done to the American economy and concludes the only thing that can save us from the ideological excesses of the Republican Party... is the Republican Party:

In the American system, with its carefully conceived checks and balances, an organized and well-funded minority can do a lot more damage – as we have just been reminded. The only force that can rein in Tea Party extremism – and get the nation off the road to fiscal ruin – is resurgence among Republican moderates. Unfortunately, their recent performance has not been impressive [Simon Johnson, "A Very Expensive Tea Party," New York Times: Economix, 2013.10.24].

That's the plan of Karl Rove, deftly skewered this week by Jon Stewart as an effort to undo the very crazy conservative activism he helped ignite. The National Journal includes South Dakota's U.S. Senate race as one of the contests where establishment Republicans are planning to spend big money to beat back the ultraconservative ideologues who have upset the old order.

"Bring it on, Stace Vader!"

"You can't win, Stace Vader!"

With his pragmatism and resistance to silly pledges, Marion Michael Rounds is the mainstream GOP's Obi-Wan Kenobi, their only hope in South Dakota against the evil forces of Stace Nelson, the Club for Growth, and the other dark upsetters of the benevolent old Republican guardians of peace and justice. Or wait: height differential aside, maybe Rounds is Vader, defending the Empire against a pitiful Rebel Alliance led by Stace Skywalker, Princess Lora, and Howie Solo. I don't know—relying on George Lucas for consistent metaphor leads only to literary disaster.

Whichever way you cast the remake, it is clear that Mike Rounds is exactly the man Karl Rove is looking for to defend the Republican brand from the suicidal Tea Party insurgency.

Update 14:03 CDT: Or maybe Mike Rounds is just one of the grown-ups Senator Orrin Hatch says Congress needs.