A Star is Born

You have to admit that it is rather amazing that an unknown, one-term governor of a sparsely populated state can not only be tapped as a major ticket vice-presidential candidate but can, in doing so, simultaneously become the new de facto leader of the conservative movement:

Gov. Sarah Palin has seemingly overnight become the leading candidate for future leader of the conservative movement in the nation – regardless of whether she and running mate Sen. John McCain capture the White House in November.

Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin, the governor of Alaska, were invited to address this weekend’s Values Voters Summit in Washington but are expected to be no-shows, leaving only Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as two of the biggest political names scheduled to address the conclave of social conservatives.

Yet, neither the former Massachusetts governor nor the former House speaker tops the list of people conservatives are talking up as the next top leader of their movement.

Asked who that leader would be, Mr. Gingrich gave The Washington Times a two-word answer: “Sarah Palin.”

Even more amazing is that Palin, with almost no discernable record of actually pushing or accomplishing anything on the Right Wing’s agenda during her short time in office, has somehow managed to displace proven right-wing stalwarts like Tony Perkins and Mike Huckabee as the new leader of the movement: 

[Tony] Perkins has his admirers, but he and Mr. Romney look almost puny going up against Mrs. Palin – at least for now.

“The movement has a reasonably strong bench but no clearly identified leader coming from that bench right now,” said Let Freedom Ring President Colin Hanna. “Tony Perkins is as close to being that next generation of leader as anyone.”

Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly, conservative cause prompter Richard Viguerie and Free Congress Foundation President Paul M. Weyrich – all considered movement founders – each gave The Times the same two-word answer to the question about the emerging leader of the right: “Sarah Palin.”

“None of the above names – Romney, Gingrich, Huckabee, DeLay – will be the conservative movement’s leader in the coming years,” Mr. Viguerie said. “Governor Palin’s VP nomination is huge. It changes conservative, Republican and American politics for the next 20 years.”

Perkins and Huckabee have dedicated nearly their entire political careers to advancing the conservative agenda and yet, in the span of two weeks, have seen their rightful positions at the movement’s forefront entirely usurped by someone who, just two weeks ago, nobody had ever heard of.