With the Liberty Bell on the big screen behind her, Sarah Palin was the Belle of the Ball at the Republican National Convention. The governor of the state of Alaska was more than picture perfect; she was pitch perfect. She's a pit-bull with lipstick, all right – lipstick, and sharp stilettos. A potent mix of style and substance.
Before Palin delivered her spectacular speech, the Obama campaign had indicated it was observing closely, but did not believe there was any need to shift strategy. By now the campaign must be rethinking its folly. For one, Palin has pushed Obama off the TV screens – a welcome occurrence. That alone ought to have alerted the Obama juggernaut to the power of Palin. Post-speech, the qualifications and accomplishments of Barack Obama are being juxtaposed to those of the Republican vice-presidential nominee. This can't be good for a man who is more chimerical than real.
The sneering sniveling responses from her "opponents" have been tellingly weak. "This is one nasty lady," whined a blogger on the bug-eyed Markos Moulitsas' influential website. Another called Palin's speech "snarky, amateurish, almost student council-like."
Palin is tough and brave, but never nasty or snarky.
The Obama camp then noodled about Palin's "divisive, partisan attacks." Partisan is good. The greater the bipartisan collusion between quislings in both parties, the less competition in government Americans end up with. "Sarah Barracuda" can leave it to her boss to slip between the sheets with members of the opposition.
Palin has what Washington harpies, Democrat and Republican, lack: authenticity, character and a personality. She's a mensch. There are plenty of plastic people doing the Republican Party's biding – vicious, vacuous, vain men and women who'll embrace her and try and change her. Consider the consummate court courtesan, Peggy Noonan. This Washington insider, lapdog to the powerful, was caught on an open mike trashing Palin, decrying her appointment as "political bulls--t" and "gimmicky." Palin is not a member of Noonan's claque – not yet. "The permanent political establishment" Palin decried is a bipartisan plague. Let us hope she remains on the outs with "the Washington elite," Democratic and Republican alike.
Indeed, unlike Hillary Clinton, the deadpan, listless Condi Rice, or the anemic Dana Perino, and others of "the establishment elite," Democrat and Republican, Sarah Palin has lived a real life real people can relate to. And lived it splendidly. It doesn't matter that I disagreed with many of her positions, not least her enthusiasm for an unjust war. Palin's achievements in the communities she has graced clearly transcend her party's rickety plank and attest to how good and gifted a "gal" she is.
The best of America is without, not within, Washington.
The charming Palin family was introduced in a manner that quelled any uneasiness I had about that earlier, excessively exuberant press release about Bristol Palin's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Last night, Sarah Palin made no unnecessary allusions to her daughter's condition. No unappetizing details were disclosed: "Our family has the same ups and downs as any other, the same challenges and the same joys." That's all there was to it.
She glowed, but was gladiatorial, as she spoke of her "perfectly beautiful baby boy named Trig," who has Down syndrome. Up on the screen, Trig's little sister applied spittle to his sparse hair, as he slept peacefully through his mother's speech and his sister's coiffing.
Then Alaska's first gentleman was introduced: "Todd is a story all by himself. He's a lifelong commercial fisherman and a production operator in the oil fields of Alaska's North Slope, and a proud member of the United Steelworkers union. And Todd is a world champion snow machine racer. Throw in his Yup'ik Eskimo ancestry, and it all makes for quite a package. And we met in high school. And two decades and five children later, he's still my guy." (Said in that endearing Marge Gunderson twang – to quote John Lifton – "the fictional chief of police of Brainerd, Minn., in the Oscar-winning movie 'Fargo.'") Real women who've raised children with good men know exactly what Sarah Palin means when she speaks about her man.
The reason Palin is unlike the types who're going to be embracing her and may even bamboozle and change her is that she hasn't orbited close to their corrupt comet. Instead, she has lived most of her life in a small town, with people "who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, and run our factories, and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America."
One can never mock Michelle Obama enough for her mindless meandering. Or her husband for getting so carried away with himself.
Sarah Palin's style: What a contrast it is to McCain's nasal mutterings. Neither has Sarah any qualms about savaging "Our Opponent" – first she depersonalized her rival, rendering him nameless, and then moved in for the kill. Conversely, to attack or not to attack is McCain's eternal dilemma. He can't make up his mind. When he had time on his liver-spotted hands, McCain even produced a commercial congratulating his opponent on a "job well done." (Would that Rep. Ron Paul, the only politician who adheres to America's founding philosophy, was Palin's running mate, wisely steering her boundless energy and excellent instincts in excising the cancer from the body politic.)
McCain comes off weak. Sarah's strong. A sturdy, rugged individualist.
Palin's powerful presence aside, the most gripping portions of her speech concerned her love of country, her convictions and her attendant accomplishments as mayor and governor. The weakest link in the address was John McCain. As she stood there in all her resplendence, it was crystal clear that Sarah Palin was the outsider; McCain the insider. Palin's the candidate of change; McCain the Manchurian candidate. She's the maverick and the man he's not.