It poisoned this most auspicious and most inclusive Obama administration from the very beginning. History — the future — will rise from that moment. It already has. Directly following, back in February, New Hampshire state Rep. Dan Itse proposed that the federal government had no right to do this, that it was immoral to do so and the states have constitutional defenses against this. Almost overnight, 30 states followed his cue. Tax revolts and the current town hall disturbances followed.

Blame it on Glenn Beck, blame it on Sarah Palin, blame it on Rick Perry, but that Romney has endorsed these efforts, as he did this weekend, changes the political scenario. Because if Glenn Beck is a demagogue, then now Mitt Romney is a demagogue. If Sarah Palin is a threat to the republic, then so is Mitt Romney. If Texas Gov. Rick Perry, possibly the most competent and successful sitting governor, is a traitor and a secessionist, then so is Mitt Romney. Questions will rise now it the hearts and minds of networks chiefs: Whom do we stake our political future on now, Mitt Romney or Tina Fey? Who will market our heroic charade for this just one day today? Mitt Romney or David Letterman? And how will we be remembered when the moment is recalled?

As The Hill reports, Romney called the tea party protesters “patriots” who have often been derided by Democrats, and said they could block the president’s agenda.

“Thanks to millions of Americans who have stepped up in town halls and tea parties across the country, he’s not going to get his way,” Romney said.

The Romney speech is an auspicious beginning. The Christian Science Monitor called the conference “a more genteel anti-Obama tea party.” Prior to this there was a division between what might be called Western Republicans like Rick Perry, who supported, endorsed and participated in the April 15 tea parties, and what might be called the traditional, culturally conservative Eastern Republicans who opposed.

The question since February 2009 was how mainstream conservatives like Romney would respond to this movement. The question since August 2008, was how mainstream conservatives would respond to the rising spirit in the heartland personified by then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. This week Romney, possibly the smartest and most capable conservative politician since Eisenhower, closed the gap.

Things end where they begin, the Buddhists tell us. The great leader and conservative thinker, Irving Kristol, who passed away just this past week, asked this question in abstraction back in the late 1950s when liberal lions like Norman Mailer and conservative writers like Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter were still friends: Which should we trust in our hearts to lead us into the future, New York and Washington or the American heartland?

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