CPAC 2013: Sarah Palin’s 'Big Gulp' moment

History can flip on a dime, and in the mists of time a symbol will emerge to memorialize the significant beginning: Washington chops down the cheery tree when we are ready for freedom. The Liberty Bell cracks to warn us to proceed with caution. We face great change in our time, and the symbol time may recall to mark it could well be the 7-Eleven “Big Gulp” container Sarah Palin brought to CPAC 2013. It was a great moment and a hilarious shtick, and Grizzly Mama is a natural comic. But it marked a definitive change in temperament, a change we have been seeing since Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul challenged the federal government’s use of drones to take American lives.

ADVERTISEMENT
By Sunday, the establishment began its fight back. CNN’s headline: “Karl Rove snaps back at Sarah Palin.” “Nailin’ Palin,” said the New York Daily News. It comes now to the surface, but it was from the beginning a Rove v. Palin fight. It started directly after Texas Gov. Rick Perry, in April 2009, called for “states’ rights, states' rights,  states’ rights” at the Alamo. Rove gathered the Bush establishment and faithful to oppose him in a primary, and Perry brought in Sarah Palin. Perry won in a landslide.

Rove lost critical establishment allies this last week. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush left not with a bang but a whimper. And his new front man, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was not even invited. And the MSM’s big, predictable “Bush push” going into CPAC descended into embarrassment: pictures of Jeb talking about Dad, as he did first sentence at CPAC; pictures of George W. Bush in paintings he had done of himself in the bathtub (Really. Too much information!); and pictures of a new, unknown semi-Bush with senior Bush hoping to advance on Texas as the Hapsburgs did Europe. “Endless Bushes,” declared Ann Coulter, descending down to “Shemp and Zippo.”

But last week, when the senior Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) with real feeling referred to his youthful Kentucky colleague as “a warrior,” the die was cast. The generations had shifted. The future was set.

The Republicans’ sin under Rove’s engineering was in following Saturday Night Live’s venerable comedian Dan Aykroyd, who in a weekly stick about art when Saturday Night was funny, would declare at the end, “Because you’ll believe anything.” That may have been true into the late 1990s, when the middle post-war generation had gotten stuck in a '60s trace, bewitched by Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” which convinced them that the world would be a better place if they never grew up. President Obama, who hopes to visit “youth” at a university coffee shop in Israel this week, still suffers. The price of the “endless youth” cult is Dick Cheney, George W.  Bush and Karl Rove dominating America without serious opposition.

But as of the past two weeks, mainstream non-ideological conservative adults have begun to traverse the turn and are quickly awakened to the new thinking of the rising generation at CPAC 2013 and its three celestial guides: Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

“What I did see at CPAC was the rise of the libertarian strand of Republicanism,” columnist George Will said on Sunday’s ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “The demographic tide here is large, powerful and execrable [sic],” and like the tide, it can no longer be held back.


More in National Party News

What if it's Boehner who can't govern?

Read more »