“I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump, the emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the tea party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party,”
I'll leave that rebuttal to others who are even more knowledgable than I and focus on President Obama's statement about Sarah Palin. As many of you know, I've spent a considerable amount of time making a documentary about the Tea Party and the 2010 election. It was originally called "Where's The Party," hence the name of this blog, but is now "From The Ground Up." I had hoped to finish the film long before now, but circumstances prevented that. The documentary has been made independently and that is difficult to do these days. It is close to completion and will be out there at some point in the next year.
For the documentary I've spoken with Tea Party founders, Tea Party members involved in important elections, Tea Party organizations, and Tea Party candidates who both won and lost. While I wouldn't claim to know as much about individual events as the people who were there, my research has given me a complete view of what happened in the 2009-2010 perspective. No one who had any involvement with the Tea Party ever brought up Sarah Palin's name in an interview. I just did a computer search of all my interview transcripts for Palin and found that two people did use her name, but only after I asked a question with "Sarah Palin" in it.
Palin may have spoken at a Tea Party event but she wasn't at any of the key ones, including the February 27 or April 15 Tea Parties or the 9-12 March. She might have campaigned for candidates but she didn't campaign in the NY-23 special election or the pivotal Massachusetts Senate election. None of the candidates mentioned having her at a rally. I acknowledge Palin had a decent amount of popularity during this period and I'm sure that some people in the Tea Party liked her, but everything that happened would've happened whether she was nominated or not. There's a lot of people on the line of the beginning of the Tea Party to Trump, including President Obama himself, but Sarah Palin isn't among them.
As I've said before, there are certain elements of what the Tea Party supported in the Trump coalition and I'm sure some Tea Party members support him for outside status. If we're drawing a straight line of the Tea Party, it should end with Ted Cruz's 2016 campaign. Cruz was representative of much of what the Tea Party stood for.