"Do you realize," CNN's Susan Roesgen asked a man at the April 15, 2009, tea party in Chicago, "that you're eligible for a $400 credit?" When the man refused to drop his "drop socialism" sign, she went on, "Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets fifty billion out of the stimulus?"
Roesgen is no longer with CNN, and CNN has only about half as many viewers as it did last year. But her questions are revealing. They help us understand that the issue on which our politics has become centered -- the Obama Democrats' vast expansion of the size and scope of government -- is really not just about economics. It is really a battle about culture, a battle between the culture of dependence and the culture of independence.
KRISTOL: these people having these rallies -- they're called citizen of the United States, and they're trying to express their views about the future of the country.
And President Obama doesn't really like that, because they disagree with him. And he thought he was elected and he was just going to transform the United States -- he hoped to be a transformative president -- into a European-style social democracy with much larger government -- which is fine; he's entitled to advance that agenda -- and a lot of citizens think, "No, we would prefer to re-limit the federal government, to re- constitutionalize U.S. federal policy."
And that's what -- this is -- he's not amused. He's worried. He's worried, because the Obama administration has inadvertently given rise to a more powerful conservative movement, conservative not in the sense of, you know, capital "C" official conservative, but conservative in the sense of constitutionalist and re-limiting the federal government.
The Obama administration has given rise to a more powerful conservatism than has existed for 20 years, since Ronald Reagan in this country.