Charles Blow's op-ed in Saturday New York Times, "G.O.P. Grief and Grieving," offensively mocked the Tea Party protesters as rednecks and rather desperately and unconvincingly insisted, against current evidence (the Massachusetts Senate race, anyone?) that the conservative movement is in its death throes.
At least Blow recognizes that the tea party protesters are not partisan in nature but have major problems with the Republican establishment as well as President Obama:
The attack on the Republican establishment by the tea party folks grabs the gaze like a really bad horror flick -- some version of "Hee Haw" meets "28 Days Later." It's fascinating. But it also raises a serious question: Are these the desperate thrashings of a dying movement or the labor pains of a new one?
(I suspect Blow really wanted to compare the tea partiers to the banjo players in "Deliverance," but rejected the idea as too on-the-nose.)
My money is on the former. Anyone who says that this is the dawn of a new age of conservatism is engaging in wishful thinking on a delusional scale.
There is no doubt that the number of people who say that they are conservative has inched up. According to a report from Gallup on Thursday, conservatives finished 2009 as the No. 1 ideological group. But ideological identification is no predictor of electoral outcomes. According to polls by The New York Times, conservative identification was slightly higher on the verge of Bill Clinton's first-term election and Barack Obama's election than it was on the verge of George W. Bush's first-term election.
It is likely that Republicans will pick up Congressional seats in November partly because of the enthusiasm of this conservative fringe, democratic apathy and historical trends. But make no mistake: This is not 1994.
If you say so. Blow concluded by again insisting the Republican Party's right turn will be fatal:
Split hairs about labels if you must, but the Republican brand already has begun a slow slide into obscurity. And turning further right only hastens its demise. Quiet as it's kept, many in the party know this. That, alas, is called acceptance.