Tea party strength and Obama weakness could lead to 3rd party in 2012

Over at MarketWatch, Darrell Delamaide asks the following poignant question:  Is tea party the end of our two-party system? Citing a number of Tea Party upsets in Republican primaries, as well as Obama’s precipitous decline in popularity, Delamaide wonders if a unique opportunity hasn’t opened up for the alienated political center of America.

While acknowledging the long odds as a result of the two-party stranglehold, Delamaide writes, somewhat tongue-in-cheek:

     “So what happens if the tea party gets its “dream ticket” in 2012-  Palin for president, with Glenn Beck as her running mate?…What if Obama continues to flounder…and is a vulnerable incumbent in that contest?  Wouldn’t that create an opening for somebody like, say, Michael Bloomberg to enter the fray as a third-party candidate?…”

He goes on to discuss the potential viability of a Bloomberg campaign, which could offer a more centrist alternative and possess more than enough money to compete on the national stage. 

Though two years away from the next presidential election, Delamaide’s speculative scenario appears to be yet another example of the growing interest in a third-party bid.  If, as he writes, Americans are asked to eventually choose between a “reckless Palin” and a “feckless Obama”, then a “disenfranchised middle…might be willing to embrace a third-party candidate.”  I would also add that if Americans are still faced with high unemployment, ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, monolithic deficits, and continued hyperpolarization in 2012, then an Independent candidate could make a serious run.

The question is, who would it be?