Thursday, January 21, 2010

Perry/Palin vs. Hutchinson/Bush: End of things, new beginnings

The markets could be cratering today because they sense a change in the “New World Order” with the election of Scott Brown. The term, used by President George H.W. Bush is unfortunate. It was the title of a book in 1940 by H.G. Wells, the utopian socialist. Like so many utopian visions of the last century - in with the dust, gone with the wind - it shows the vulnerability of world markets to ideology, whimsy and mass delusion.

It should be noted that Scott Brown owes a political debt to the Christmas bomber. His prospects began to rise on Dec. 28 when he promised he would be the 41st vote against the Democratic health-care bill. Almost no one noticed. He was trailing Martha Coakley by 20 points. But from where I live, which is similar to the blue western parts of Massachusetts, a change in temperament could be sensed. In the 2004 election northeast liberals were torn about the war in Iraq due to policy and politics. But then the dastardly Dec. 25 attempt gave them/us the opportunity to express ourselves freely in opposition to terrorism without committing necessarily to consequences.

We were perhaps the last to get on board emotionally but we are there now. That shift in temperament helped raise Brown’s boat. This can happen overnight (that is what the movie “Casablanca” is about), as it did when the New England Transcendentalists suddenly threw their support to John Brown and the rising war effort.

I see this as a permanent change in political temperament. As the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger said, the Kennedy era is dead. But something new will rise, it always does. Possibly a new party could rise.

We are riding a sequence from NY 23 and Virginia last fall to Massachusetts this week. But the most important transitional date is ahead in the race for Texas governor. The Austin Statesman reports that former President George H.W. Bush will endorse U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary for governor in her race against Rick Perry. Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Margaret Spellings and Karen Hughes also support Hutchison.

But Sarah Palin supports Rick Perry and will appear with him at a rally on Super Bowl Sunday. Does one Sarah Palin equal a Bush, a Rove, a Spellings and a Hughes? In Texas, I believe it does. And other places as well.

"I look forward to standing with Sarah to promote our shared conservative values of limited government, low taxes and individual freedom," Perry said in a statement. "Gov. Palin is a true conservative leader whose priorities and message resonate with Texans, and I am honored to have her in Texas supporting my campaign."

As Brown brought the end of things in Massachusetts and New England, we are seeing a critical new division in Texas between traditional Republicans and new conservatives. The outcome of this race will be more important than NY 23, Virginia or Massachusetts. It could bring a new and permanent realignment of the political parties.

Rasmussen reports this week that Perry is ahead 43% to 33%. Perry is one of the most solid and respectable governors in the republic. His state is growing while other large states are in recession. And he has closely allied himself with the tea party movement. As we have seen the end of the Kennedy era with the election of Brown, we may as well be seeing the end of the Bush era – the old world order - with the reelection of Perry.