I happened to be watching “Fox News Sunday” where Chris Wallace interviewed Sarah Palin. She had just recently given her speech at the Tea Party Convention and I noticed her lapel pin. There were two flags on it, the Israeli flag with the Stars & Stripes. No one is surprised that she’s a proponent of the Israeli state, but I think it says something that she would wear such a thing to an event like the Tea Party Convention. This is yet another sign that the neocons may be using her as a “useful idiot” to co-opt this movement.
That said, it’s truly bizarre that she would endorse Rand Paul while at the same time campaigning for John McCain’s re-election bid. Bill Kristol expressed his disapproval of her endorsement of Paul, a sign that she has indeed moved off the neocon reservation just a bit. Still, one of the organizers of the Tea Party Convention emphatically stated his opposition to any third-party effort. I have become more and more skeptical of the Tea Party phenomenon and this attachment to the GOP certainly solidifies my skepticism.
If this movement becomes just another arm of the Republican Party, then it will fail miserably. Just look at what happened to similar populist movements in the “Christian Right”–the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, and so forth–all of which were also vehement backers of Israel. They were simply absorbed into the larger Republican fold and soon most of their issues were discarded in the name of “being electable.” Go ahead and toss the Tea Party movement into that heap as well.
Yet the lapel pin caused me to mull another question: is it Sarah Palin’s adherence to interventionist ideology or the particular theological convictions she holds which is the root of her support for Israel? We know that she’s a run-of-the-mill Evangelical and those types of churches foster the type of eschatology (premillennial dispensationalism) which places a heavy emphasis upon supporting the current Israeli state. I guess a better question would be whether she would still support Israel if she weren’t a dispensationalist.