YouTube Blogging Palin’s Speech

February 8th, 2010 at 1:28 pm David Frum | 27 Comments |

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I will be YouTube blogging Sarah Palin’s keynote address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, TN.

Good opening joke about C-SPAN and the healthcare negotiations – give Palin credit for her elbow jabs. The tea joke on the other hand: meh. More seriously, the mention of Reagan’s birthday reminds of a crucial Palin weakness. Reagan could say something harsh while looking personally genial. Palin can’t.

*  *  *

Here’s some advice from FDR, the master.

Postmaster general and DNC chairman James Farley had given a speech to Democrats in Michigan in advance of the 1936 election. In the speech he referred to Roosevelt’s opponent, Alf Landon, as governor of a “typical Prairie state.”

Roosevelt wrote Farley a note of correction: “Never use the word ‘typical.’ If the sentence had read, ‘One of those splendid Prairie states, no one could have picked up on it. But the word ‘typical’ coming from a New Yorker is meat for the opposition.”

I thought of this advice at the 5 minute mark, when Palin said the following:

Because from Virginia to New Jersey to Massachusetts, voters are sending a message up and down the east coast. And good places like Nevada and Connecticut, Colorado, Michigan, and North Dakota, they have got the liberal left, that establishment, running scared.

I doubt Palin exactly intended to suggest that the east coast was NOT a good place. And she did include Connecticut in her list of good places. Palin is not a precise speaker, to put it mildly. But you can understand that an eastern viewer, listening with half an ear, might miss the state name and instead hear the bald reference to the east coast followed by a compliment to a list of mostly non-east coast places and think: “she does not much like us, does she?” The tic, the habit, of identifying some places and some Americans as “good” (better?) while omitting others – may or may not be revealing of Palin’s innermost thoughts. But it is damaging either way.

*  *  *

The substantial part of Palin’s remarks opens with a championing of contested primaries. OK, reasonable point of view. But it’s a strange theme for a party leader to hit so prominently and so early. One more reminder that Palin has come to see herself as a factional leader within the GOP rather than as a unifying national figure.

*  *  *


Very strange – after praising contested primaries and hailing the Tea Party movement as bigger than the GOP and a challenge to it, Palin launches into a foreign policy segment that is pure party orthodoxy. Is this what the Tea Party conventioneers came to hear? I wonder … I notice that the applause seemed to falter through this segment, picking up most intensely only when Palin decried the idea that a professor of law could act as commander in chief. Hate those professors!

I did enjoy the slip though where she wondered whether Alaska remains a beacon of hope.

*  *  *


Interesting – no applause for sanctions on Iran. No applause for Palin’s speculations that democracies keep the peace.


*  *  *


Palin has harsh words for public irresponsibility. A strange remark in the mouth of a former governor who quit halfway through her term to hit the paid speaking circuit.

Applause for populist slap at the bankers – suggestive.

Interesting weasel words re stimulus. “I vetoed SOME of the funds …”

*  *  *

As Palin barrages the audience with statistics about unemployment, both they and she seem bored. It’s very abstract, she does not seem to bring to unemployment anything like the energy she brings to her expressions of personal contempt for the president and (especially) the vice president.  Ronald Reagan would have told some heart-rending anecdotes. Bill Clinton would have communicated empathy and sorrow. Palin’s emotion? Resentment that the administration has slighted “somebody up there in Alaska.”

*  *  *

The foreign policy sections of Palin’s address bear some impress of somebody who knew something of what he or she was talking about. They weren’t exciting or eloquent, but they did not clang with ignorance or irrelevance either. The domestic sections are something else. At the half-hour mark, Palin declares that “if government got out of the way, the economy would roar back to life.”

In the context of 2010, what is that even supposed to mean? Free-market economists are concerned about what Obama’s plans will mean for the future growth of the U.S. economy. But in the here and now, it’s bad loans on the books of banks and income collapse among consumers that are the weights upon the economy. Get government “out of the way” and things would be just as they are, if not worse: remember stimulative spending provided most of the growth in the last quarter of 2009 – and absent TARP, we could have had a 1929-33 style bank collapse.

Bravo to the health criticisms though … I just wish she gave some indication of what the questions were to which she has successfully memorized the answers.

*  *  *

Wait a second! I thought we were getting government out of the way! Now she’s praising Obama’s support for nuclear power – ie, the doubling of government loan guarantees to the nuclear industry to the tune of $36 billion.

*  *  *

Answer to second question: Palin denounces political aspirants with “fat, elite resumes.” It’s enough to have “the basics down.”

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27 Comments so far ↓

  • mike farmer

    I disagree — I think Palin cheerfully hits the right buttons. After her speech, the parrots have been squawking loudly — they aren’t genial squawks either –Palin pushed buttons that have created Killer Parrots. Andrea Mitchell had fire in eyes. Andrea wasn’t genial, either — she doesn’t like Sarah one bit, I tell ya. Palin’s speech made Joe Scarborough sniff haughtily — that was fun to watch. All this was on Joe’s morning coffee show. Peggy Noonan was attempting to be above it all, but I think she’s conflicted — what could she say? I suspect that privately Noonan likes Palin, but could never admit it on MSNBC. Mike Barnicle was appropriately unimpressed with Palin and got a kick out her notes on her hand. Although Palin might not appear as genial as Reagan appeared, she’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm compared to the cranky sourpusses this morning on Joe’s coffee show — they don’t like her one bit, I tell ya.

  • rbottoms

    Amazing speech from someone who needs to keep her political philosophy limited to the three talking points she can scribble into the palm of her hand.

  • sinz54

    no applause for sanctions on Iran. No applause for Palin’s speculations that democracies keep the peace.
    I noticed that too.
    Sarah Palin was talking like Kristol and McCain, more than like Reagan: The way to fight rogue states and terrorists is via armed regime change in those countries.

    But a lot of Tea Partiers are what are sometimes called “paleo-conservatives”: Old-style isolationists, and libertarians and Randians who oppose nation-building overseas and who want America to avoid foreign entanglements.

    They want al-Qaeda destroyed, and they want captured terrorists dealt with harshly. But they don’t want American blood and treasure poured into nation-building.

    The GOP has carefully avoided reviewing the neo-conservative foreign policy. But sooner or later they’ll have to.

  • Churl

    rbottoms, when she is President, she can afford two teleprompters and a staff to program them. She won’t have to write stuff on the palm of her hand anymore.

    Also sprach Frum, “Palin declared that “if government got out of the way, the economy would roar back to life.” In the context of 2010, what is that even supposed to mean?” If Mr. Frum can’t figure out what that means, he ought to give up on trying to convince conservatives to follow him.

  • mike farmer

    Especially in the context of 2010, the meaning ought to be crystal clear.

  • Mandos

    Yes, it’s the blaming of allegedly irresponsible black people and the regulations that forced banks to be less racist when lending. That’s exactly what she means. CDOs, CDSs, etc—no problem, MARKET SOLVES! MARKET SOLVES!

  • aDude

    I always get amused at the lack of a sense of history from those who believe that any government regulation of the financial industry is a bad thing (see Fed haters, for example). Before the great Depression, we had a lot of major financial downturns (see 1873, 1893, and to a lessor extent 1907) which led to unemployment rates of 15% or more.

    While all good Conservatives will agree that too much regulation is a bad thing, those who favor overthrowing the Fed, the Treasury Department, the Comptroller of the Currency, and their fellow travelers just don’t know how bad the good old days really were.

  • sinz54

    aDude: those who favor overthrowing the Fed, the Treasury Department, the Comptroller of the Currency, and their fellow travelers just don’t know how bad the good old days really were.
    That’s why I offered as one principle in the “Centrist Manifesto” that centrists (or center-rightists) are forward-looking, and don’t look back nostalgically on the 19th century as some kind of Golden Age.

    Hard-core right-wingers, libertarians, followers of Ron Paul, and followers of Ayn Rand are all nostalgic for the past, when they thought things were better than they are today.

    But if you read the articles, columns, and editorials written in those days, you won’t find anyone proclaiming “Wow, what a Golden Age we live in! Truly, America will only be worse off in 100 years than it is now!”

  • rbottoms

    rbottoms, when she is President, she can afford two teleprompters and a staff to program them.

    When she’s president there will be Olympic Ice Skating in Hell with those of the founding fathers who were slave owners as judges.

  • PracticalGirl

    Cheer up, rbottoms.

    When Miss Wasilla is President, she’ll find out that runnin’ a country is HARD, y’all! And quit,leaving Vice President Glenn Beck to communicate in his own inimitable style.

  • PracticalGirl


    I wonder what you have to say about Palin’s jab at the Washington ways that are causing our budget (among other things) to sprial out of control during her speech, yet today defending Shelby’s Senatorial Snit because “he’s just tryin’ to create jobs for his state”?

    That’s the problem with Palin’s mouth. It runs off with no thought to what she said yesterday or what she might say tomorrow. Acceptable for a talk show host. Terrifying in a person who still thinks of herself as Presidential material.

  • Jim_M

    Hmm, lets see. Her speech pisses off and intimidates liberals. Jeez, what’s the world coming to. =)

    oh and here’s a shout out to Mike Farmer! Well put!

  • anniemargret

    rbottoms#9, practicalgirl#10: Hilarious!

  • Mandos

    Jim_M makes the classic error of mistaking mockery and contempt for intimidation.

  • COProgressive

    I wonder who wrote her speech? It wasn’t the same person that wrote her Halfgovernor “I quit” speech.

    “We shouldn’t worry about government having enough money, the government has plenty of money” Sarah Palin Conservative Runner Up Beauty Queen & former Halfgovernor of Alaska

  • msmilack

    What I find particularly distasteful about ex-governor Palin (do we need to continue to call a quitter “governor”?) is her embrace of being intellectually mediocre. She couldn’t write a speech if her life depended on it but she is ever ready to make fun to people who are a) educated b) intelligent c) compassionate. That she has any following speaks to the worst part of our culture: those who typically blame others for their misfortunes. I look forward to the day she is totally unmasked for who she really is though don’t expect any mea culpa from her: she lies when confronted with the truth. If I weren’t so certain it is in her future to self-destruct in her quest to be center stage, I would be afraid of her power. She is an exceedingly ignorant person. It was enlightening to learn how afraid she was of losing Limbaugh’s support; he had a whole show on how her spokeswoman called in a panic for fear he believed she would ever criticize her for anything. And recall that despite the tv coverage, there were 650 people at her revolution, hardly the majority of anything except the Tancredo bigots. Even Meghan McCain pointed out that revolutions generally start with the youth of the culture not elderly bigots.

  • Jim_M

    Seen B.O.’s numbers lately? I’d find another American Idol to hitch my wagon to if I were you.

  • mike farmer

    Yes, Jim_M, I’ve been told that if I hitch my wagon to a star, make sure it’s not a falling star.

    I find it odd that Frum is fixated on applause levels and is nitpicking every piece of the speech. It’s almost a Sullivan-like obsession, with all the petty snarkiness — reminds me of a teenage social clique in which a jealous gang of in-group kids attack a competitive, independent newcomer in school.

  • Jim_M

    Agreed. Frum has spend the better part of his adult life typing away and has reached “perhaps” 1% of the audience she has in what, 18 months? Simple sophomoric jealousy? Probably.

    I have no idea where this Palin things goes. Or for that matter weather it should go. Just as long has her celebrity continues to reveal the ugliness and literal fascism of the tiny left wing, I’m happy.

    Turn it up Mrs. Palin !!!

  • jabbermule

    heh heh – I love it when the left get all pissy every time Sarah Palin opens her mouth, and it reveals some interesting things about supposed “progressives”:

    1) They don’t mind aggressive loud-mouth liberal women, but, God forbid, a conservative woman getting all uppity like that? Shouldn’t conservative females “be seen and not heard” like Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush? Get back in the kitchen and bake some cookies, foul conservative woman!

    2) They think everybody that dwells in a red state is a complete moron. 80% approval rating as governor? What a joke – those stupid red state people just don’t understand that bigger government, higher taxes, and endless entitlement programs are designed to HELP them.

    3) It forces them to admit that Nancy Pelosi is actually quite stupid and, in general, even more annoying than Sarah Palin. But wait a second – Ms. Pelosi is Speaker of the House, and Sarah is just a…public speaker and…uh…a best-selling author. And isn’t Speaker of the House a powerful position in government?

  • ste4ve

    Time for a Palin palate-cleanser, don’tcha think? I do:

  • sinz54

    jabbermule: It forces them to admit that Nancy Pelosi is actually quite stupid and, in general, even more annoying than Sarah Palin.
    Nancy Pelosi is way smarter than Sarah Palin.

    Pelosi can answer a question from reporters without stumbling all over it.

    Pelosi has had to manage 435 diverse House Representatives to cobble together enough votes to pass some highly controversial legislation. That’s real hard. What has Sarah Palin done in politics that’s comparable?

    Pelosi’s answers may infuriate conservatives.
    But at least they’re real answers.

    I’m sick and tired of this mindset that a politician who spews platitudes you agree with is “smarter” than a politician who offers crisp answers that you are 100% opposed to.

    Politically, I’m closer to Palin than Pelosi.
    But intellectually, I accept that Pelosi is way smarter than Palin.

    Let’s face it, some of our political opponents are smarter than some of our political allies.

  • sinz54

    jabbermule: They think everybody that dwells in a red state is a complete moron.
    “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

    – Mark Twain

    The way to refute the notion that Red Staters are morons, is to popularize Red Staters of genuine intellectual achievement.

    Let’s show off the Red State scientists, engineers, college professors.
    Let’s show off the universities in Red States.

    Let’s not show off Sarah Palin, who has proven herself unable to think of a direct answer to a direct question.

  • R.E. Munn

    David Frum censors these comments.

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