I found a lot to disagree with in Thomas Friedman’s column today, but his criticism of the Republican Party’s base rings true.

[T]he Tea Party … is so lacking in any aspiration for American greatness, so dominated by the narrowest visions for our country and so ignorant of the fact that it was not tax cuts that made America great but our unique public-private partnerships across the generations. If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission.

This strikes me as fair, and it got me thinking about a question a friend of mine asked me the other day: where are the “sane Republicans” willing to “stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst”? Where are Bob Dole and John Warner? Why can’t John Danforth and Colin Powell express their disapproval for what their party is doing? Maybe some of Reagan’s old guard, like Ken Duberstein, could speak up?

The party is not without elder statesmen and women. They couldn’t possibly see their party’s antics on Capitol Hill and feel a sense of pride. Maybe it’s time they say so?

A regular reader recently passed along this item from Robert Prather, published a week ago on the center-right Outside the Beltway blog, about his sense of what’s become of the GOP.

I’ve been moving to the left for a few years now, but these idiots are radicalizing me. I’ve never voted for a Democrat in my life (full disclosure: I didn’t vote the last two elections due to moving), but I doubt I’ll ever vote for a Republican again. They’re either stupid or evil, but either way they’re dangerous and bad for the country.

I don’t know much about Prather’s political background, and maybe he’s an anomaly. But shouldn’t there be a legion of Republicans — former office holders, party loyalists, life-long members, all of the above — who are sympathetic to this perspective?

We’re not talking about GOP officials taking a hard line on some random piece of legislation, or nominating some radical for a key public office. We’re talking about congressional Republicans who’ve decided to play a game of chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States — something no American institution has ever done in more than two centuries — and who are fully prepared to trash the constitutional principle next week as part of a hostage strategy gone horribly awry?

Are there no noteworthy Republicans watching this, willing to say, “My party is simply going too far”?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.