In a post I made after the most recent election, I suggested that the rise of the Tea Party had created a de facto three party game in Washington: A coalition of Obama with either the traditional Republicans or the Tea Party was sufficient to pass legislation. At first glance, the latter coalition seemed unlikely, but not impossible, although I couldn't think of any specific issues on which it could come together.
We now have one:
President Obama scored a victory today in the House when Tea Party Republicans helped scrap funding for a jet engine the White House and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have been trying to kill for years. (USA Today, Feb 16, 2011)