Our political Quote of the Day comes from a must-read-in-full column by Nashville Post Politics’ Kleinheider on the Tea Party movement, Sarah Palin and the GOP. Here’s the first part of his piece:
The tea party movement is dead. The one I was familiar with anyway. Judson Phillips held it down and Sarah Palin drove a stake right through its heart live last night on C-Span in front of an unsuspecting audience.
Sarah Palin didn’t give a tea party speech last night. She gave a partisan Republican address. It was a purely political speech designed to position her for a presidential run in 2012 or 2016. Period. She wasn’t there to celebrate the organic nature of a movement she had nothing to do with creating. She was there to co-opt the name and claim the brand as hers. And she did.
The movement, that came to be officially recognized almost a year ago but whose roots go back further than that, has been snuffed out and replaced in the public mind. The movement that began as a people’s movement of angry independent, libertarians and conservatives will now be thought as the movement of people like Palin, Dick Armey, Judson Phillips, Mark Skoda, etc. Essentially, a wholly owned subsidiary of the “Official Conservative Movement” and the Republican Party.
This new tea party bears no resemblance to the one that began a year ago as a reaction to the collapse of our financial system and the subsequent bailout. That movement of ragtag and unorganized libertarians, independents and conservatives was something new and unique. An authentic protest movement angered not just by the new President, Barack Obama, who had presided over the bailouts but the president who started the ball rolling and whose incompetence had led to the crisis in the first place, George W. Bush.
For over a year the media has struggled to try and define just what exactly the movement was. Now they have a definition.
The fact that Palin even has the temerity to position herself as a leader in the movement (and despite her protests that’s exactly what she was doing) is offensive to any student of very, very recent political history. Palin, as mavericky and rogue as she likes to paint herself, was the Vice-Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 2010. She ran with John McCain and defended the Bush legacy. A project she continued last night in front of a faux-tea party audience.
There’s a lot more so read it in full.
Also be sure to read in full THIS POST by independent writer John Avlon on The Daily Beast, who was there for the Palin speech. Here’s a small part of it:
The National Tea Party Convention ended with a Palin for President rally.
This was always slated to be the weekend’s main event, with a $100,000 prize purse. But the organizers still hadn’t seen a copy of the speech as the crowd streamed into the banquet ballroom. What they got was less a Tea Party manifesto than Sarah Palin’s State of the Union speech—an address to a domestic spending protest group which spent its first 15 minutes focused on foreign policy.
It didn’t matter. With plenty of anti-Obama red meat and Palin’s patented folksy-sarcasm, this crowd was rapturous about just being in her presence. She remains the Queen of the Conservative Populists
Palin may be the most polarizing figure in American politics, but she is beloved by her supporters beyond anything seen since Ronald Reagan. Assuming she runs, whatever mistakes she makes between now and the nomination will be dismissed by her supporters as the work of the liberal media playing “gotcha” politics. And in the dynamics of the Iowa caucus that Teflon devotion could bring her victory.
For the Tea Party movement, it was an oddly establishment end to a conference devoted to rebellion—the crowd’s full-throated endorsement of the GOP’s former VP nominee. It is one of many still unresolved tensions in the Tea Party movement, which even after this much-hyped weekend convention remains divided between purposeful fiscal conservative Paul Reveres and people suffering from a serious case of Obama Derangement Syndrome. Another of Palin’s one-liners seems to fit the current condition: “If you can’t ride two horses then you shouldn’t be in the circus.” How long the circus can sustain riding these two divergent horses will determine whether the Tea Party succeeds or self-destructs.
Read it in full.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.