That Sarah Palin will be speaking at what’s being billed as the first “National Tea Party Convention” makes complete sense. A popular movement that is still trying to figure out exactly what it is will be addressed by a popular woman still trying to figure out exactly what she is.

For now, this is OK. Come to think of it, this confusion or vagueness concerning ideology and identity amongst grassroots conservatives is much better than OK — it’s a necessary and encouraging journey.

As the Left and liberal media tries to portray outspoken Americans fed up with government spending as some sort of wacky fringe, the much-maligned “tea baggers” actually represent the first sign of sanity on the mainstream Right in some time. Perhaps it took the extreme spending example of President Obama’s Democratic Party to induce fear in so many about America’s future, but it is also significant that the tea partiers don’t seem to find any worthwhile value in the recent Republican past. In fact, Republican politicians who supported TARP or stimulus spending remain primary targets of the tea party set, and the big-government, big-spending, warmongering of the George W. Bush years seems to have become a distant, often embarrassing memory. Reported ABC News this month, “So-called ‘tea party patriots’ are members of a political movement sweeping America whose core beliefs center around fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets.”

“Fiscal responsibility?” “Constitutionally limited government?” “Free markets?” Isn’t this just long established, stock Republican language? It is. The difference is, unlike grassroots Republicans of the past 30 years, the mostly conservative and independent folks who make up the tea party movement are beginning to realize that the so-called party of “limited government” has not delivered.

But who might deliver? Generally not comfortable with the same old Republican establishment types, Palin is perceived as someone outside the Beltway, who is held at arm’s length by GOP elites and who is abused mercilessly by the mainstream media — just like the tea partiers. Given the dynamics in play, no one should be surprised that the tea party movement has embraced Palin. But it could be that Palin’s emergence as a tea party favorite is more indicative of a thirst for leadership than a thirst for Palin.

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