As I wrote in my column on Wednesday, in warning the Democrats not to become too cocky after their victory in the presidential election, "Every victory brings the seeds of a future defeat."
The corollary, however, applies to the Republicans: "Every defeat brings the seeds of a future revival." How they choose to nurture those seeds is the question of the hour.
In a wise column published in the PG Wednesday, the moderate conservative David Brooks of The New York Times said the battle for the party's future vision will be won in the near term by those who believe the GOP has suffered because it "has strayed from the true creed of conservatism" - he calls this group "The Traditionalists." His conclusion is that "the Republican Party will probably veer right in the years ahead, and suffer more defeats." I think that's absolutely correct.
It's not necessarily good news for the country, however, because someone in Washington has to keep the Democrats honest by providing a counterweight. In my view, if the Republicans move to the middle, where most Americans live, they will do better more quickly, especially if the Democrats water their own seeds of destruction by vacating the middle in a drift to the left.
Which brings us to Sarah Palin, whom Brooks rightly identifies as the favorite of the Traditionalists. That is why, my friends, I am not worried about her chances in 2012, despite her best efforts after the election to talk up her cause.
It seems to me that the boat that carries her hopes is caught on a receding tide. She is the darling of a group that feeds on the very things that were so repudiated in this election - disunity, belligerence, bitterness, fear, character assassination. She looks nice, makes a good prepared speech, but isn't going to become miraculously more thoughtful or eloquent off the cuff, even if she spends the next four years studying Africa.
Her appeal will remain strictly with the red-meat eaters in the red states. Everybody else will go on seeing her as a female George W. Bush, capable of giving a nice hug but generally clueless.
After Bush, this isn't the path to future election victories. The American public was hit on the head by two by fours long enough that they finally woke up.
Of course, Barack Obama could be another Jimmy Carter, or else the economy could stay bad for four more years, and then all bets are off.
But, with those caveats, I say bring her on. She's just the one to lead the conservative charge to the rear.