Will Tea Partiers Have a Veto Over the 2012 GOP Nominee?
That was the “Matthews Meter” question for the panel this weekend on The Chris Matthews Show where they discussed whether the Tea Partiers are going to drag the party further to the right, as the right led by Barry Goldwater did back in the 60's. His regulars are split including Gloria Borger who says let's wait for the mid-term elections and see how independent voters end up reacting to their candidates and doesn't think they're going to have enough power to have a veto power over who their presidential nominee is.
Dan Rather disagreed with Borger and agreed with Matthews that at least one of the people on the Republican presidential ticket was going to have to be someone that the Tea Party was satisfied with.
Richard Stengel is asked about Sarah Palin and what kind of power she's going to wield and Matthews notes that Palin is not just picking “stupid right wingers” but winners. (Note to Chris Matthews, not all of her picks have been winners, some have been right wingers and she's often waiting until those picks are fairly safe before she makes them. I know you and Uncle Pat love her, but she's not some political genius.)
Stengel agrees that Palin will wield a lot of power because so much of the Republican electorate is “listening to the silent song of Sarah Palin” but also notes that there's not going to be some big rift in the party no matter who they choose because the truth of the matter is the “mainstream” of the Republican Party and their right wing base are not that far apart ideologically, unlike the days of Rockefeller and Goldwater Matthews showed earlier in the segment.
That got a good chuckle from the panel who were amused by Stengel's statement. Whether it is because they agreed with it or not I'm not sure. That seems to be the big elephant in the room they all managed to almost get to but failed to discuss in this segment. This is not just a matter of whether the Republican Party is going to continue to move further to the right for the next election cycle. It's a question of whether they're ever going to move back to the center if they see some short term gains in these mid-term elections.