We are at the end of things. Again. It always happens just before the beginning.
But in every turning, traditionalists fight against it. The Beatles land in New
York, and the old school comforts the rank and file: They will soon get on the plane
again, go back where they came from and everything will be like it was in the peaceable
kingdom. It never is. The Democrats have been plagued these past years with the
Clinton reflex and the Republicans are today with the Bush reflex. But the Beatles
have landed. This time it is Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. And I can assure you
that here in the New Hampshire back woods, where conservatism is a fireside tradition,
Sarah Palin strikes discord in the heart of local conservatives, just as she does
with Frank Rich and Barbara Bush.
It is worse now for conservatives. Liberals have acquiesced. Conservatives were delighted when Palin was freaking out the liberal establishment. Now their own establishment feels threatened. They know what conservative women are supposed to be like: Kay Bailey Hutchison, senator from Texas, and Christie Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey. Barbara Bush with a college degree, not Andrew Jackson. This is why they lined up so heavily against Rick Perry in the recent Texas gubernatorial primary. They knew this wasn’t going away. And Lisa Murkowski won’t hold back the call of the wild coming from Alaska. At first they saw the Tea Party as “man yelling”; like Gingrich, Pt. II, this time featuring New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who can yell better. Now it is out of hand. And now the name “Jeb Bush” keeps floating by, out of the ether, like saving grace from the Holy Spirit.
But I have seen the happy place. The conservatives’ happy place was the Southern Governors Association convention last spring: half a tent revival with great speeches by Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, Palin, Perry and others. And Nikki Haley, the new governor of South Carolina, who faced more disgraceful primary opposition than the others, gave a formidable speech at a recent governor’s conference and was this past week among the first to challenge the president directly. Conservatives should be thrilled to see the age opening in their ranks. Instead they are afraid: afraid of Sarah Palin.
The claim today that the Tea Party is about many things is divisive. And the new Republican Congress will turn it into a blur unless a leader evolves. That seems likely to be either Perry or Palin.
This movement has come to the edge of the river. It will cross now or never. As Christian Heinze of The Hill reports, Palin said she would only run if the field were missing a candidate who had “common sense” and “pro-Constitution passion.” If there were such a candidate, Palin would opt out and be “their biggest supporter and biggest help-mate.” She could bring Iowa and South Carolina to a potential Rick Perry/Jon Huntsman Jr. ’12 ticket in the primary season. Perry received a big endorsement by Palin in his recent primary.
Judge Andrew Napolitano, who has become to the Tea Party what Mr. Natural was to the ’60s, has talked to these two on his TV show, “Freedom Watch.” Why don’t they both go on and publicly talk this through together? And one or the other comes out the leader. I say Perry because the conservative establishment is more afraid of Perry than it is of Palin.
Visit Mr. Quigley's website at http://quigleyblog.blogspot.com.