"But I brought party favors!" (photo: Joe Burbank via tgaume)

Sarah Palin got a lot of publicity for speaking at the Tea Party convention in Nashville, but I’m not sure she knew where she was because her Sunday morning follow-up  hit a sour note note that destroyed whatever support she got from appearing there in the first place:

President Barack Obama won’t be re-elected in 2012 unless he can “toughen up” on national security, according to Sarah Palin. The former Governor of Alaska believes that declaring war on Iran could help the president get re-elected.

“Say he decided to declare war on Iran or decided really to come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do,” Palin told Fox News’ Chris Wallace Sunday. “That changes the dynamics in what we can assume is going to happen between now and three years.”

She might as well have said “let’s burn the constitution and expand the Fed.”

Granted, the tea party messaging can be pretty schizophrenic and has often served as a grab bag of anti-Obama sentiment.  But their primary message has always been economic, and they have their roots in the libertarian-leaning, anti-interventionist conservatism of Ron Paul.

Tea party star Allen West, who raised over twice as much in the 4th quarter of 2009 than Democratic incumbent Ron Klein (FL-22), says “We must get away from occupation warfare and nation building.”  Rand Paul, who is very likely to win Jim Bunning’s Kentucky Senate seat, would’ve voted against the war in Iraq and wants a constitutional declaration to continue the war in Afghanistan.  Adam Kokesh is running as an anti-war candidate against Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Luján in New Mexico’s third congressional district (Lujan voted for the war supplemental).

There’s a tension within the conservative movement right now between the more social conservative, neocon wing that Palin represents, and the anti-tax tea party libertarians who have stronger paleo leanings.  The latter have an ugly nativist streak, but they are straining to get away from George Bush’s war.  It’s gays & God vs. guns.

There was a lot of pushback because of the price of the Palin tickets, and many of the rank-and-file tea party activists see her as a symbol of the establishment GOP’s attempt to co-opt their nascent movement.

Palin evidently thought she could endorse Rand Paul and they’d all throw flowers at her feet. Instead they’re having a melt down over her speech, trying to figure out how to keep the neocons out of future conventions.

Rather than navigating the gulf between the tea party activists and the GOP, Palin drove a wedge between them.

Well, at least she had the good sense not to mention her Bridge to Nowhere. But you have to wonder why they invited her there in the first place.