IT HAS NOW COME down to this: the first national Tea Party Nation convention opens today down in Nashville, a volcanic event that will upstage the Super Bowl by three days. The world, it says here, will be watching. So will America's national media, looking for an opening here, a weathervane there, to define the nation's political future. Even the professional politicians on both sides of the aisle aren't quite sure what to make of the spectacle that would rival England's Peasant Rebellion. Probably more so, inasmuch as there were no TV cameras back in the 14th Century and Glenn Beck had yet to be even a gleam.
But you're not likely to find any doubt for the cause among the starry conservative cast that will parade before the 600 registered attendees in the Opryland Ballroom to prescribe fail-safe solutions for all of the nation's problems. Indeed the only doubts that have prevailed are whether the organizers of the convention were less interested in telling off liberals , socialists, the New York Times and President Obama than in the profit motive at $549/per/ticket.
Although a couple of headliners, Reps. Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn decided it might be more politically correct to back out of the event, the reports from Opryland is that all other systems are go, and then some, to satisfy the frustrations, anger, outrage, disillusionment, isolation and cynicism of the masses. Even the keynote speaker (Saturday night), Sarah Palin, once seemed uncommonly friendly to secession talk in Alaska before she revved up her personal ambitions in the McCain campaign and denied everything - even those times when she declared she didn't know what she didn't know.
We caught some of the tone of the celebration - which it is - by scanning the credentials of the other marquee speakers. For example, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, a homophobe trying to rise from the ashes by running for governor this year. You may remember that the other justices unanimously kicked him out in 2003 after he disobeyed a federal court order against a monument for the Ten Commandments in the courthouse.
Others who may be expected to supply windpower to the Lipton teabags wiggling from the delegates' hats will be Steve Milloy, a Fox news commentator who rants against junk science , and Tom Tancredo, who sort-of ran for president the last time on an anti-immigration platform. God knows who will be lurking in the shadows.
But the only platform worth assessing is Palin's, a cutting-edge candidate for the White House who will be down there with her enablers taking names, email addresses and places of birth while profiling potentially useful allies to guarantee her claim to fame will last more than 15 minutes. On Sunday, the day after the convention, the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints will meet in the Super Bowl in Miami to determine who is really No. 1.