And Tisei, if he wins, seems headed toward acceptance, and even some elevated status, within House Republican circles. The National Republican Congressional Committee has been an early and eager booster. As a Republican knocking off an incumbent Democrat in Massachusetts, he would have a cachet similar to that of Senator Scott Brown, if a slightly lower wattage.

He could be in a position to change minds, or at least speak up against bad rhetoric.

That's the theory, anyway. Plenty of others think this is all fantasyland thinking. Tisei, they believe, will be tolerated and accepted only as long as he keeps his mouth shut about gay issues. Looking at the current state of the party, that does strike me as the more likely scenario — but it certainly is tempting to hope that I'm wrong.

ON THE TALKING POLITICS BLOG: This week, David S. Bernstein marvels at the ineptitude of Romney's latest TV ad and answers reader questions at thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. 

 DBERNSTEIN@PHX.COM:: @DBERNSTEIN

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