One of my more interesting life assignments was to once ride to the airport with William F. Buckley Jr. to keep him entertained. Conversation went from state sovereignty to whether Russia would be better off with a czar (Buckley said yes).

Soaring, fearless and graceful he was, and without his omniscient overview, some conservative voices today have become strident, orthodox and narrow. And there is stress now among older conservatives about the new energy that is the Tea Party, though there should not be. In terms ad man Don Draper might have used decades back, yes, the new Volkswagen Bug has arrived on the streets of America. Yes, it is disturbing. Yes, it will change America. The venerable elders like Bert Cooper might have a hard time coping or adjusting, like George H.W. Bush, who tells Larry King tonight, “I’m confused by it, frankly.” But the Republicans already have the account. This burgeoning, young conservative movement today has Old Temple vs. New Temple features virtually identical to those which Jack Kennedy, scorned by Eleanor Roosevelt and the liberal Protestant gentry, faced in 1960. His franchise ran for 50 years.

The egregious groping behavior of the TSA will trigger now a psychological change in the mainstream of America unprecedented in this country. We, the people, have finally found our way to outrage. What started with the Tea Party will spread by degree to every non-zombie who flies over the holidays; that is, anyone with a pulse. Because as Mike Huckabee said to Judge Andrew Napolitano on his “Freedom Watch” show the other night, The Tea Party is the most important political movement in America in his lifetime. Now it will metastasize to a greater public realm.

The zombie craze today suggests that America has become a timid, soulless horde, just as it suggested when the craze first appeared in the late 1950s. Then it was prelude to a vast cultural awakening just ahead and it will be this time again. So the new conservative Congress should not be considered the equivalent of 1994, when Americans reacted to the incompetence of the Clintons in the healthcare debacle and the Clintons in general by returned power in the Congress to Republicans. What did the Republicans have going forward into 1996? Bob Dole, possibly the weakest and least attractive Republican to run for high office postwar. But what do the Democrats face in 2012? Potentially the most dynamic, competent and creative group since postwar: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Arkansas’s Huckabee, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and, expanding the paradigm to entirely new realms of state sovereignty and Austrian economics, possibly Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and potentially Joe Miller of Alaska. The rising, creative vision of the century ahead could and should rise from a creative cauldron at the 2012 Republican convention.

The old-line Bert Coopers reared in the pre-Volkswagen Bug days of Kennedy vs. Lodge, Catholic vs. Protestant, predictably pitch another Bush relative, and his mother today nervously chimes in with the haunted bipartisan chorus singing: “Go away, go away, don’t you come back anymore! Go away, go away and please don’t slam the door . . . (slam!).”

But I think I still see Sarah Palin upon the stair. She wasn’t there again today.

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