Monday, January 11, 2010

Tea Party rattles America's educated class

Barely a week into a new decade that will redefine America's place in the world, the feisty yet fractious Tea Party movement is readying its next brew. A landmark Tennessee convention in early February is aimed at transforming a year of caffeinated conservative rage into a political force to make heads roll. Sarah Palin will serve as pourer-in-chief, guaranteeing the firebrand former Alaska governor a bully pulpit from which to bash President Barack Obama. Who, in this instance, will be a victim of terrible timing, as Palin's critique is scheduled hard on the heels of Obama's State of the Union speech. Most agree the movement is the wild card of American politics today – one that could evolve toward third-party status, but more likely will flex its muscle within Republican circles by pressing for the nomination of "core-value" conservative candidates over moderates. Several such battles are already underway, with Tea Party supporters rallying behind upstarts Marco Rubio of Florida and Gary Johnson of New Mexico. Political watchers anticipate a Democratic slide in November mid-term elections. But with Tea Party's future so amorphous and mainstream Republican strategy built around little more than obstructing Team Obama, an electoral reversal now might merely "contribute to the air of cynicism in which our citizens marinate," conservative columnist Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street more

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