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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Interesting – no applause for sanctions on Iran. No applause for Palin’s speculations that democracies keep the peace.
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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 …”
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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Answer to second question: Palin denounces political aspirants with “fat, elite resumes.” It’s enough to have “the basics down.”