Sullivan puts it pretty clearly:
My sense is that it is a delayed reaction in some ways to Bush, and his betrayal of conservatism. For all sorts of reasons, most of the current tea-partiers backed the GOP under Bush and Cheney, although some, to be fair, did complain about some of it. The pent-up frustrations behind conservatism’s collapse under Republicans were trumped, however, by the fruits of power, partisan hatred of “the left”, defensiveness over the Iraq war and torture, and, above all religious devotion to the Leader. Now that Bush has been removed, the massive damage done, and a pragmatic liberal is trying to sort out the mess in a sane, orderly fashion, they’ve gone nuts.
Think of someone like Glenn Beck.
He sat back and watched Bush preside over the worst domestic attack in US history, explode the entitlement state, engage in unending projects of nation-building in two of the most dysfunctional countries on earth, rip up the Constitution, and bequeath as his legacy a trillion dollar deficit, unprecedented domestic discretionary spending, a banking collapse and the worst recession in many many years. The right will take some time to absorb this but Bush was Carter II – with two full terms. All that rage at what has actually happened – bottled up by rank partisanship for years – has come bounding out. Hence the bizarre spectacle of a president just two months on the job being treated on the right as if he’s already Robert Mugabe. Throw in a little racial and cultural panic, add a world of genuine economic pain … and you have the Malkin surge.
Hat tip: John Cole