It is a little early in the piece to be announcing a
candidacy for the United States presidential election in 2012,
but several commentators have suggested this is precisely what
Sarah Palin did in delivering the closing address to the Tea
Party convention in Nashville, Tennessee, last Saturday night.
At the very least, it was a reminder to Americans
that the Alaskan comet is firing again, having blazed
brightly in the political firmament of the last presidential
campaign as running mate to Republican contender John McCain,
before burning out amid recriminations over Team McCain
micromanagement, the cost of her clothing allowance, and a
clutch of revealing and electorally damaging media
Reading the tea leaves in the convention's wake, it is
evident the former governor of Alaska has not retreated to
Wasilla and dug herself a snow cave in which to sulk and view
Russia, and other more insidious American enemies, from afar.
She has returned to the fray with her recently published,
best-selling memoirs Going Rogue: An American Life, and is
building an expanding platform, particularly among the white
middle-classes of middle America.
Her popularity is as baffling as it is perhaps frightening to
liberal intellectuals, Democrats - and, some suggest - to
old-school Republicans whose most fervent wish is to retake
the White House in 2012 and who fear her potentially divisive
influence on the party.
Part of the angst derives from Mrs Palin's audience at the
weekend - the so-called Tea Party movement.
A loose amalgam of climate sceptics, religious
fundamentalists, "birthers" (who claim Barack Obama is not an
American), pro-lifers, anti-intellectuals, and tax-hating
small-government activists, it takes its name from the Boston
Tea Party of the 18th century in which American colonists
opposed British taxation.
A self-styled "silent majority", it considers itself the true
descendant and moral heir of the revolutionary spirit that
sent the British packing in the War of Independence.
Only now, the enemy is within.
It proclaims itself a "bottom-up" movement and relies heavily
on viral internet activism to spread its message and attract
Writing in the London Observer, columnist Joe Queenan
described it thus: "An 18th-century political movement is
using 21st-century technology to persuade America to return
to its bedrock 19th-century values.
The 20th century - income taxes, going off the gold standard,
abortion, hip-hop - was a mistake."By various accounts, Mrs
Palin's speech was a rousing but initially
As is almost obligatory on such occasions, she ran the old
standards, "hope" and "change", up the flagpole and saluted
them with references to "common sense conservative
But it was during the unscripted question and answer session
afterwards that she was most forthcoming.