This might seem shocking at first - how could Mrs. Tea Party possibly turn her back on Mr. Tea Party and endorse Mr. New York Liberal? - but then you remember that she was calling Trump an "American hero" in the same breath with John McCain six months ago, and Trump was actively recruiting her to be his Energy Secretary a week later, and she more or less accepted six weeks after that. Clearly if Sarah Palin was ever conservative, that was a very long time ago, and she's far more celebrity now - and is desperate to remain in that exclusive club in order to remain in the "top 1%".
This might also seem like a betrayal at first - remember when Governor Palin and Senator Cruz were literally manning the barricades together at the World War II Memorial during the government shutdown fight two-plus years ago?
Remember how she was one of his strongest - and only - defenders against the eeeeeevil "GOP establishment" during the ObamaCare Defundageddon event?
Remember how they've been Tea Party stalwarts and leaders in the fight for "true conservatism" and a Tea Party Congress?
Actually, yes, it is a betrayal - but one that was not difficult to see coming, and might be the full exposure of her "growth" into not just the scourge of the GOP but of conservatism and what the Tea Party used to stand for:
Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential nominee who became a Tea Party sensation and a favorite of grass-roots conservatives [threw all of that legacy overboard by endorsing] Donald J. Trump in Iowa on Tuesday, providing him with a potentially significant boost just thirteen days before the State’s caucuses.
“Are you ready for the leader to make America great again?” Mrs. Palin said with Mr. Trump by her side at a rally at Iowa State University. “Are you ready to stump for Trump? I’m here to support the next president of the United States — Donald Trump.”
Yet another through-the-looking-glass moment, my friends. It's a good thing I'm sitting down right now, or I would need to. But we've already established that this mis-endorsement isn't truly a surprise; the next question is does it really matter? After all, Mrs. Palin hasn't been politically prominent or even active since the 2010 cycle, she lost her Fox News commentary gig last year, and even her non-political media ventures aren't doing much. Four years ago her endorsement of Trump would have made a truly big splash and carried legit weight, but now?
I think this Charlie Cooke quote from a year ago says it well:
For a long while now, Palin has not so much contributed arguments and ideas as she has thrown together a one-woman variety show for a band of traveling fans. One part free verse, one part Dada-laden ressentiment, and one part primal scream therapy, Palin’s appearances seem to be designed less to advance the ball for the Right and more to ensure that her name remains in the news, that her business opportunities are not entirely foreclosed, and that her hand remains strong enough to justify her role as kingmaker without portfolio. Ultimately, she isn’t really trying to change politics; she’s trying to be politics — the system and its complexities be damned. Want to find a figure to which Palin can be reasonably compared? It’s not Ronald Reagan. It’s Donald Trump. [emphases added]
Ironic, and bitterly so, it is that I was, for Mrs. Palin's first year or so of national prominence, one of her biggest fans and supporters. Then she quit as Governor of Alaska barely more than halfway through her first term instead of "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHTING!" her Democrat persecutors, which was hugely disappointing. But I also understood why she did it - to spare her family the nightmare of media hostility and financial destruction. But all the anti-GOP "establishment" grandstanding that ensued, which was simply a continuation of the same fratricidal obnoxiousness that had vaulted her to fame in Alaska and beyond, didn't take long to wear out her welcome with me, to the point where I grew well and truly sick of her and her unhelpfulness to the conservative cause. And now, today, we see that she really was never part of the conservative cause at all. Either that or she betrayed it for New York liberalism at some point along the way. Here's hoping that Senator Cruz tweets out a "jumping the shark" reference about 'cuda before the day is out as he did Trump a couple of weeks ago.
A metaphor that is all the more appropriate given the sudden turn Trump has taken towards embracing - wait for it...wait for it - the GOP "establishment":
Donald Trump bashed Ted Cruz’s “temperament” and defended his presidential campaign’s ground game during an appearance Tuesday at the John Wayne Birthplace Museum.
“Ted has got a rough temperament, you can’t call people liars on the Senate floor when they are your leaders. Not a good thing to do if you want to curry favor and get the positive votes later on own,” Trump said.
“Ted is worried about his temperament, people are talking about his temperament. I haven’t talked about his temperament but he’s got to be careful because his temperament has been questioned a lot.” [emphasis added]
That's right, Tea Party Trumplicans, your hero is sticking up for Mitch F'ing McConnell. I seem to recall that Tea Partiers loved Cruz for smearing Mitchie The Kid with the L-word in public like that; it was a great act of "populism"; it was ripping the "establishment" from rectum to belly button; it was what the Tea Party has reduced itself to being all about. It was aping Trump. And Trump's response now is to embrace that same "establishment" he's built his entire campaign image on lampooning and ripping with gleeful abandon. Is this registering at all with any of you? Does it matter? Or will you defend this ultimate flip-flop on the very thing that made you fall in love with him to begin with?
Not that I can let the subject pass without mentioning that there is one helluva load of karma in this episode for Senator Cruz. As with so many things Trump insincerely says to pander to this Republican wing or that, he's technically not wrong in this Cruz criticism. Cruz calling the party leader he himself voted for a year ago a "lying, corrupt, cylinder-headed, mother!#$%ing mound of loose Hutt blubber who should go anally pleasure himself with his corncob pipe" on the Senate floor itself isn't "a good thing to do if you want to curry favor and get the positive votes later on." It was of a piece with his Defundageddon fiasco, wherein he smeared any House or Senate Republican colleague, including more than a few fellow Tea Partiers, who pointed out the reality that defunding ObamaCare (most of which is statutory, not discretionary, spending anyway) in the teeth of a Democrat Senate and Democrat White House was impossible as "the surrender caucus". Ted Cruz has spent three years burning every intra-party bridge and making enemies of as many fellow Republicans as possible, and now, when he could use more than a meager handful of fellow GOPers to come to his defense, they're not only not there for him, but are possessed of such vengeful loathing that they're embracing Trump as passionately as he's pretending to court them:
Rich Lowry says that Republican establishment types are telling him that they think Trump would run better than Ted Cruz in the general election. That would seem unlikely given the publicly available data. Trump is running behind [Mrs.] Clinton in head-to-head polling, while Cruz is ahead of her. Neither does Trump seem to have much room to grow among general election voters. Trump’s favorability numbers are toxic among independents and Democrats (and not that great among Republicans.) If you were simply going for the most “electable” candidate, Cruz wouldn’t be your first choice, but he makes much more sense than Trump. So what are the establishment types doing?
If I had to guess a reason (beyond spite and incompetence – though those would suffice) for why Republican establishment types are talking up Trump’s chances in the general election, it would be to prevent a panic stampede to Cruz among the chamber of commerce conservatives and upper-middle-class moderates that make up the constituency for candidates like Rubio, Christie, Bush, and Kasich.
Cruz beats Trump in head-to-head polling. Trump beats Rubio in head-to-head polling. Trump only beats Cruz if there is a strong three-way race (with Rubio in third place.) [emphases added]
Trump is the mortal, existential threat to the post-Reagan GOP that has been conservatism's national political vehicle for the past thirty-six years. But "Republican establishment types" hate Ted Cruz so much after his going out of his way repeatedly to gratuitously piss in their faces that they're willing to allow, even facilitate, the hostile takeover of the party by a New York liberal in order to screw him out of the GOP nomination in a fit of pique and fratricidal spite. Or, put another way, just as Trump exploited Tea Party anger at the "establishment" to get into and vault to the top of the Republican presidential field seven months ago, so he is now exploiting "establishment" anger at the Tea Party to, perhaps, push himself over the top to clinching the nomination. And both sides of the GOP civil war are so intent upon wiping each other out that they both unthinkingly and unquestioningly and gullibly accept Trump as an ally against the other.
It's been almost too easy. Assuming, of course, that the GOP at heart is still a conservative party and Trump's sudden chumminess with the hated "establishment" doesn't backfire to Senator Cruz's benefit, as it would have to in any sane political landscape.
Allahpundit, being the pessimist that he is (completely unlike the realist that I am) speculates that, whoever ultimately wins the nomination, the ultimate legacy and accomplishment of Trumpmania may be the disintegration of the Reagan coalition that was the Republican Party for two generations:
Trump is the great clarifier: He took a coalition of right-wingers uneasily assembled under the banner of “movement conservatism” and gave the ones who don’t really believe in conservatism the courage to declare their principles. Some are nationalists and Jacksonians; some, as David French said, are cultural conservatives who can do without the free-market mumbo jumbo; some are alt-righters. It’s better to know where everyone really stands than to pretend that we’re all on the same page, which went on for decades after Reagan....Even if Trump loses, even if this has all been an elaborate false alarm, there’s no going back to what the right was. The illusions are gone now.
I don't know if it's that "the illusions are gone now" so much as each part of the Reagan Coalition is no longer willing to coexist with the others, even though we all have far more in common with each other and to gain by remaining together. Whether in reaction to a Trump nomination or as a result of his destabilizing seeking of it, the GOP looks to be coming apart at the seams and perhaps going its separate ways. And that is pretty much what happened to the Whigs over a century and a half ago, and the diametric opposite of what the country needs if there's any Tea Partier out there who still yearns to see a constitutional restoration.
As to the rise in passion and fall in ignorance of the Tea Party that Sarah Palin's quixotic national career symbolizes, Allahpundit sums that up thusly: "If the Dayton speech was the beginning of the tea party, today’s speech in Ames is the end. Drop the curtain."