As a historian, what fascinates me most is not Democratic incompetence (Lord knows there is nothing remarkable about THAT. Sunrise, sunset, Democratic incompetence). Rather it is the elevation of a fringe miniority from the depths of obscurity to a position of power not only in their own, albeit crippled, party, but in the national arena as a whole.
Note that this phenomenon--the tea baggers, the town hall protesters, Sarah Palin supporters, etc.--is nothing new. Throughout American history we have had the fringe elements of the nativists, the anti-intellectuals, the xenophobes, etc. Now to this old mix we add the accelerant of race to the fire, and something remarkable happens. Historians for generations to come will puzzle over the question of how a marginalized minority of nutcases, IMMEDIATELY after an electoral thrashing, comes to dominate the political landscape.
I don't have an answer. Maybe Will Rogers does.