Paul and Palin’s House of Straw

Bookmark and ShareIs Ron Paul a victim of his own success? Two years ago that question would have seemed ridiculous as Ron Paul was regarded as a fringe candidate. Last year, with the rise of the Tea Party he had long been a part of, the question would have seemed equally absurd as Paul was riding a rising tide. Just as the landscape of politics lifted Paul from fringe candidate to political sage in one year, it may be depositing him on the shores of has-been island a year later.

Palin and Paul blown away?

Earlier I wrote that Paul may not be the man for the job as the Tea Party movement grows into its own. I pointed out that a candidate who sounds like Paul, but has a fresh image might be the ultimate preferred candidate of the Tea Partiers. In that same piece, Sarah Palin’s vigorous attempt to cast herself as the Tea Party candidate was also discussed and her ultimate failure to win that position also forecast. It is still far too early to say for certain those predictions will be the case, but the recent straw poll in Virginia is showing something of that sentiment.

Chris Christie took the top spot, followed by Palin with Paul in third place. Granted the sample was far from scientific and the spread between the candidates was only 28 votes, but as a snapshot of motivated voters it has some value. Chris Christie’s win is less about him than it is about Palin and Paul’s failure to win. The campaign for 2012 is still a few months off and the heavyweight candidates are not yet dominating the discussion. So why is a 1st year governor of New Jersey beating out both the man who laid the foundation of the Tea Party movement and the woman who spends every waking hour trying to position herself as its candidate? That answer is what really matters.

That Christie captured the poll shows that the voters who are strongly active in politics are not satisfied with either Paul or Palin. The Tea Party has grown far beyond the fringe and developed into a broader conservative movement. That success brings with it not only greater numbers into the movement, but also their preferences. While the movement may share a limited government, Constitutional conservative vision, it does not have a shared vision of who best would champion that in 2012. Christie probably is not going to be the nominee in 2012, but his recent success sheds light on who might be that nominee.

Christie is a governor who cut spending and stands by his principles to get government under control. There are other candidates in the wings who can claim those credentials and one of them is very likely going to be the eventual nominee. Paul’s success with building the Tea Party is also his undoing as the movement moves beyond making a statement towards developing a strategy to win and govern. Meanwhile Palin’s 15 minutes seem to be drawing to a close as she was denied the top spot despite doing everything in her power to get it.

The Tea Party movement is maturing and becoming the kind of broad, conservative movement that lifted a former California governor to the Presidency 30 years ago. It appears to have outgrown Ron Paul and lost its infatuation with Palin as it searches for a conservative leader.
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2 Responses

  1. Christie isn’t even on the horizon. Try again.

  2. I agree. Christie isn’t on the horizon for a serious bid in 2012, which is why his victory over Palin and Paul is meaningful. It shows how weak they are and how quickly they can be pushed aside by a strong campaign by some of the other contenders. Christie will stay in New Jersey, but there are some other conservative governors and former governors who may, if the current enthusiasm for Christie’s actions holds, become the front-runners early in the 2012 campaign season.

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