In his Washington Post column Tuesday, Bill Kristol predicted that the "center of gravity" in the GOP going into 2012 will not be its leaders in Congress but rather "media personalities like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh" (as well as Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich).
Obviously, many Republicans and conservatives -- and lots of moderates and independents -- will be grateful to Mitch McConnell if he can stop ObamaCare, and to Jon Kyl if he can induce the president to embrace a stronger foreign policy. But it's unlikely that the minority party in Congress will be the source of bold new conservative leadership over the next three years. Even if Republicans pick up the House in 2010, the party's big ideas and themes for the 2012 presidential race will probably not emanate from Capitol Hill.
The center of gravity, I suspect, will instead lie with individuals such as Palin and Huckabee and Gingrich, media personalities like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and activists at town halls and tea parties. Some will lament this -- but over the past year, as those voices have dominated, conservatism has done pretty well in the body politic, and Republicans have narrowed the gap with Democrats in test ballots.
Meanwhile, Beck and Palin had turned on Gingrich for supporting a moderate Republican in a New York House race.