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Sarah Palin Aims to Bust Up the Republican Party -- And the Tea Party Movement

Palin's speech was her boilerplate of non sequiturs and cognitive disconnections, but in the interview that followed, she revealed her hand in a game for the presidency.

Sarah Palin appears to be running for president of the United States of America. You betcha.

In an interview with Chris Wallace, recorded on the eve of her Saturday night special of a speech to the Tea Party Nation convention in Nashville (and aired yesterday on Fox News Sunday), Palin didn't quite confirm that speculation, but left the door wide open.

"Why wouldn't you run for president?" Wallace asked.

"I would," Palin replied. "I would if I believe that that is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family. Certainly, I would do so."

Palin's address to the Tea Partiers was standard for her: boilerplate in its arrangement of non sequiturs and cognitive disconnects. She railed against the Obama administration for ostensibly violating the 10th Amendment to the Constitution -- the one that guarantees states' rights -- and then offered a health-care "fix" that violates that very amendment (allowing consumers to purchase policies across state lines, which basically intrudes upon the state's right to regulate the insurance industry within the state). She charged the administration with trampling on the Constitution, while asserting that "foreign terrorists" arrested here aren't entitled to constitutional rights. (Uh, actually, the Constitution confers those rights on anyone in the U.S. justice system -- citizen or not.)

She stoked up the right's anti-intellectual animus by taking shots at President Obama's alleged elitism, and went after him for purportedly being soft on terrorism and dictators. All predictable, and a good move if you're planning to be the opposition candidate to the president's 2012 bid for re-election.

But during the question-and-answer session that followed with Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, Palin departed from the chant of her familiar refrain to tacitly reveal her hand -- and not just the talking points scribbled on it -- for the strategy she may use to clear her path to the presidency. That path-clearing seems to involve the sowing of discord, not just within the Republican Party, but within the Tea Party movment as well, along with a sprinkle of discord dust on the Democratic Party for good measure.

Palin took pre-selected questions from conference attendees that were submitted through the Tea Party Nation Web site, and read by Phillips.

In answer to one question, Palin noted with enthusiasm that many Tea Party activists are not registered Republicans -- just like the former first dude of Alaska.

"My husband -- he's not a registered Republican. He's probably more conservative than I am, " she told the convention.

Indeed, Todd Palin, for seven years was a member of the secessionist Alaska Independence Party, which is the Alaska chapter of the theocratic Constitution Party founded by Howard Phillips (no relation to Judson Phillips), one of the architects of the religious right.

TP's membership in AIP created a bit of a problem for the McCain presidential campaign, and within the campaign, according to campaign aide Steve Schmidt, who had to battle Palin to keep her from denying that fact, which was easily verifiable by any enterprising reporter. Todd Palin left the party before his wife hit the campaign trail as McCain's running-mate, but maintained his independent voting status.

(Todd Palin made news again this week, when an investigation by NBC News revealed e-mails that showed him deeply involved in the governance of the State of Alaska during his wife's truncated term as governor.)

Sarah Palin told the Tea Partiers that she supposed she owed an apology to the Republican Party for not being able to persuade her husband to join. Yet she spent the early part of her speech lauding the victory of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican who won his seat with a lot of out-of-state help from Tea Partiers.