Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Boston Tea Party

Boston would seem to be the ideal place to hold a tea party. After all, it was the site of that first one, the one that is the symbol for the latest iteration of a group claiming to be patriots because they object to the federal government. So, the Tea Party is planning a mass tea party in Boston tomorrow, although I doubt we'll see an actual re-enactment of history. Oh, thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands will be present, but most of them will be there to worship the darling of the movement, once-for-half-a-term-governor Sarah Palin.

Boston Globe columnist Scott Lehigh has a snarky column up on who won't be present, and it might surprise you.

The GOP’s big names are skipping today’s Tea Party rally. Charlie Baker, the leading Republican candidate for governor, has a, um, scheduling conflict. Ditto state Senator Richard Tisei, his running mate.

Nor will you see US Senator Scott Brown, who, to hear the talk-radio types tell it, pretty much owes his election to the Tea Partiers. Count me as dubious about that. I was out on the campaign trail the weekend before the election, and I didn’t see much evidence of The Tea Party at Brown’s events. Of course, those same attention-craving talk-radio types remind me of the opportunistic 19th century French politician who, hearing a noisy crowd nearby, supposedly declared: “There goes the mob. I am their leader. I must follow them.’’

But don’t take the snub personally, folks. It’s not so much you as it is the headliner. To succeed as a Republican in Massachusetts, a politician needs broad appeal, and rubbing shoulders with Sarah Palin simply isn’t going to confer that.

You see, Mr. Lehigh points out, Ms. Palin just isn't that popular in Massachusetts. He cites a recent poll in support of this proposition:

According to a January Suffolk University poll, only 25 percent of Massachusetts (likely) voters view Palin favorably, while 60 percent see her in an unfavorable light. (Scott Brown’s rating on the same survey was 57 percent favorable, 19 percent unfavorable.)

Mr. Lehigh's assessment of Ms. Palin expresses (with some delightful venom, I might add) just why the GOP pols are wise to keep their distance:

What Palin really represents is the triumph of charisma over content. Yes, Glenn Beck may swoon at the thought of her leading the country, but after her performance as John McCain’s VP nominee, it’s enough to make the more-firmly-hinged shudder. Since that campaign, Palin has resigned as governor of Alaska and embarked on a national tour as a conservative inspirational speaker of sorts, offering up a simple, homespun populism that resonates with some conservatives.

(And for which those conservatives pay mightily for the privilege of hearing, I would add.)

"The triumph of charisma over content." Yes, that captures Ms. Palin nicely. We Americans are suckers for charisma, and by Americans I mean all Americans, not just Republicans. It certainly explains a lot of our history, especially recent history, doesn't it?

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