Delayed Gratification
I am still trying to erase the memory of that close-up of former House Speaker Tom Delay shaking his brown spandex-clad behind on this week’s Dancing with the Stars premiere. But I was interested to read Delay’s recent comments about the lack of any promising new Republican leadership in Congress (sorry, Eric Cantor). Delay went so far as to say that even the likely pick-up of some additional Republican seats in the 2010 midterm election wouldn’t alter that leadership vacuum in any meaningful way.
While Republican institutional elites continue to wring their hands over this situation, I get the sense that movement conservatives in the party’s base (especially those frequenting cable news, talk radio, tea parties, and town hall meetings) actually prefer it this way. To the extent that they view their newfound collective mobilization (and shouting) as rising up organically from the grassroots, they actually see the institutionally constrained behavior of these Republican leadership elites (bipartisanship anyone?) as cramping their style.
Just as President Obama arose from political obscurity five years ago to ride a moment of voter disaffection into the White House, so too do these conservatives believe that someone will naturally emerge to lead them by 2012. This is a very different notion of leadership succession than the next-in-line approach traditionally employed by Republican elites to pick their leaders. Cha-cha aside, for many of these folks, Tom Delay’s words are music to their ears.

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