Ross Douthat explains why he isn't as down on the Tea Party as some of his fellow reform conservatives:

Absent the Tea Parties, would the G.O.P. really be any closer to kind of seriousness that Frum and I would like to see? I’m not so sure. As far as policy goes these days, the G.O.P.’s inside-the-Beltway leadership often seems more intellectually unserious than the grassroots:

The original “Republicans for Medicare” were sitting Senators, not Tea Party insurgents, and Grover Norquist’s spluttering attack on Mitch Daniels this week seems like a more depressing indicator for conservatives than Christine O’Donnell’s wild ride to nowhere. On the personnel front, plenty of sober, grown-up Republicans are winning elections amid the populist tide, and I have a hard time weeping many tears for all that the Republican Party of Charlie Crist and Lisa Murkowski could have done for the country if the Tea Party hadn’t intervened. And even if most of the populist rhetoric about fiscal discipline is so much sound and fury, if the Tea Partiers just deliver a few politicians into office who are willing to talk honestly about entitlements (and defense spending though there I suspect Frum prefers the status quo), they’ll have done their debt-ridden country a significant favor.

That's his dream? A "few politicians" prepared to talk about entitlements - rather than his party actually doing something to reform them? Wow. Talk about lowering expectations. He does, however, promise to reconsider even this minimal assessment "if Glenn Beck soars to the Republican nomination in 2012 on the strength of Tea Party support."

And if Sarah Palin does?

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