For a reported fee of $100,000, Sarah Palin has agreed to deliver the keynote speech at the Tea Party's first national convention, to be held in Nashville starting Feb. 4. The event is seen as a new chapter for the loosely organized grassroots movement, which staged a series of loud, headline-dominating protests against big government spending in 2009 and hopes to become a force in November's midterm elections. "We can't just stand around holding signs," says Tea Party Nation organizer Sherry Phillips. Is this a good match for the Tea Party —and for ex-Gov. Palin?

The relationship could benefit Palin and the Tea Partiers: Getting Sarah Palin is a coup for Tea Partiers, says Patrik Jonsson in The Christian Science Monitor. A successful convention could help them unify into a powerful third party. "The gig would seem a step down for Ms. Palin," who is already one of America's most popular if polarizing political figures, but she could do worse than aligning herself with a "mounting, even transformational, force in U.S. politics."
"Sarah Palin will headline first-ever Tea Party Convention"

This is where Palin always belonged: Sarah Palin has no affiliation with the Tea Party, says Chris Good in The Atlantic. No politician does, except for Rep. Michele Bachmann (who organized a November Tea Party rally on Capitol Hill). But Palin, the mavericky former GOP vice-presidential candidate, will really just be taking up "the mantle that has been waiting for her as the movement's most visible and popular hero."
"Palin to address Tea Party convention"

Bad idea, Tea Partiers: The Tea Party is supposed to be a grassroots movement open to any ordinary American upset over big government, says Dan Riehl in Riehl World View. Handing over the microphone to big-time politicians like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann "is the beginning of the end of it as a ground-up movement." The Tea Party can still do a lot of good in 2010, but "the co-optation" has begun."
"And so ends the Tea Party era"

It's hard to know what to make of this convention: This gathering might transform the Tea Party movement into a third party, says Ed Kilgore in But, with a speakers list that includes "Christian Right warhorses Rick Scarborough and Judge Roy Moore," it could end up being "a prayer meeting" for hard-core conservatives hoping to take over the Republican Party. Either way, if the organizers are paying Palin as much as $100,000, as rumored, they're undermining their own legitimacy.
"Tea Party convention: Third force or takeover bid?"


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