Last Saturday, August 29th, we recognized the one year anniversary of Governor Palin’s selection by John McCain to be his running mate in the 2008 Presidential campaign with a flurry of posts. See here, here, here, here, here, and here.
For many people, however, her introduction to the nation came five days later in a speech watched by over 40 million Americans. In my opinion and without qualification, her dazzling RNC speech was the best speech I have ever seen. It was a moving, passionate, and utterly fearless stemwinder by a truly gifted orator. With that masterpiece, she became the leader of millions of Americans who believe in a limited, citizen-led government and has never relinquished that role. Her recent almost single-handed battle against ObamaCare and "cap and tax" are proof of her enduring leadership of us ordinary barbarians.
Oh, just in case anyone’s memory needs refreshing on the magnificence of her speech…
Some would say I’m preaching to the choir here when I praise the speech she delivered on that historic evening of September 3, 2008. Fair enough. How did others perceive it, you ask? Let’s take a look.
I have chronicled, in no particular order, some highlights from articles which were written in the days immediately following her speech.
Michael Barone, in US News and World Report, described her speech as:
The most electrifying and fearless speech I’ve ever heard from a vice presidential nominee.
In an article for The New York Post, Rich Lowry wrote:
Last night, the question about Sarah Palin wasn’t if she’s risen too fast, but where she’s been for so long.
She may have given the best speech of either political convention. She delivered a brilliantly written text flawlessly. Politicians who’ve been on the national stage for decades could do no better, and usually do worse.
It is widely remarked that Joe Biden is an ideal No. 2 on a national ticket because he’s a "happy warrior." Maybe. But Sarah Palin is a pretty, charismatic, winsome warrior, with a to-die-for smile, radiant upswept hair – and a steely toughness.
Sarah Barracuda, indeed.
Miss Congeniality isn’t afraid to administer an old-fashioned beat-down. Annie Oakley brought a gun to a knife fight and made like the Obama-Biden ticket was a moose lazily meandering into her gun sights.
Palin quickly established her credibility as a genuine representative of small-town America in a way few politicians can – and then used it to wheel on Barack Obama as a gasbag and a fraud in a witheringly sarcastic assault.
Kathryn Jean Lopez, writing for National Review:
Without pandering, without sounding like a politician, Palin was able to say, essentially, I am one of you. I work hard. Love my family. Love God (“a servant’s heart”). We struggle, just like you. But we know what is right and what is wrong. And I am here today to make sure you can make the choices you need to do right by your family.
She didn’t have to spell it all out, she showed it to us Wednesday night. She showed us that even a small-town gal from Alaska can be successful and be a leader.
And she laid the groundwork for invigorating a movement. Immediately after her speech, National Review Online readers e-mailed me to tell me they had just watched the next Ronald Reagan, the long-awaited successor.
In an article written by Michael Calderone for The Politico, Laura Ingraham had this to say about Governor Palin’s speech: "It’s one of the best political speeches I have heard — ever!" In the same Politico article, even the deranged Keith Olbermann couldn’t bring himself to criticize her speech. In a visibly depressed NBC studio that was so eerily silent you could almost hear Chris Mathews’ leg tingling, Olbermann allowed that Governor Palin "clearly gives a great speech".
From the blog Broadsideofthebarn.com:
Governor Palin then blew the roof off the place. Everyone knew she had to perform and boy did she ever. Line after line she had every one in the arena jumping right out of their chairs. The media had spent the week slamming her, investigating her family, and exhibiting a level of unprofessionalism previously unmatched. When she ticked off a line about not caring about being accepted by the media elites, the crowd went crazy and started chanting, ‘NBC, NBC…’
I sat with a fellow blogger up in the nosebleed seats being both thrilled and stunned. I was just hoping she’d perform well, but had no expectation for her to deliver like that. It’s a speech I will remember to the day I die; it was that good.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:
Palin showed her mettle tonight. Alaskans tell us that she is “tough as nails” and doesn’t run from a fight. Tonight, she challenged Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and the media elite to a fight to the finish. And she has bad news for them: she has no plans to quit.
Republicans should feel cheered and elated by this event tonight. No matter what happens in this race, we have seen the future of the party, and it looks bright indeed.
Fergus Shanahan of the UK Sun:
WHY, why, why can’t WE have a Sarah Palin?
She was an electrifying mix of passion, energy, optimism and plain speaking. The exact opposite of the slippery, two-faced, depressing bunch of third-raters who parade on our Westminster stage.
Showing steel beneath her magnolia jacket, she slaughtered Obama’s lack of experience, his vanity, his emptiness beneath the windy waffle.
It was the most powerful demolition of the Democrat hero I have heard in two weeks on the US election trail.
Michael Reagan for Realclearpolitics.com:
In one blockbuster of a speech, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin resurrected my Dad’s indomitable spirit and sent it soaring above the convention center, shooting shock waves through the cynical media’s assigned spaces and electrifying the huge audience with the kind of inspiring rhetoric we haven’t heard since my Dad left the scene.
In a few words she managed to rip the mask from the faces of her Democratic rivals and reveal them for what they are — a pair of old-fashioned liberals making promises that cannot be kept without bankrupting the nation and reducing most Americans to the status of mendicants begging for their daily bread at the feet of an all-powerful government.
Erick Erickson, for Redstate.com:
Sarah Palin took to the podium tonight and gave the speech of a lifetime, perhaps the best nationally broadcast political introduction in the convention history…
Tim Reid, writing for the UK Timesonline:
She spoke for 36 pugnacious, stilleto-heeled, in your face, Barack Obama is a limp-wristed cover boy minutes. She blew the roof off. Sarah Palin has now shaken up a presidential race like no other nominee in modern times.
Jeanne Cummings and Beth Frerking, writing for The Politico:
Palin’s poised and flawless performance evoked roars of applause from delegates who earlier this week might have worried that the surprise pick and newcomer to the national stage may not be up to the job.
When the nearly 40-minute address came to a close, however, all doubts were doused and Democrats were on notice that Palin will not flinch from the fight.
And finally, David Von Drehle, in an article for Time, wrote that the early prediction of a rather dismal GOP convention couldn’t have been more wrong:
And there was only one real reason for that: Sarah Palin. Two simple words, but with a lot of meaning to unpack. First comes star power — Palin has it; McCain doesn’t, and neither did any of the other men who ran for the party’s nomination this year, which is why McCain managed to outlast them. As the also-rans trooped onstage to deliver their obligatory endorsements, Republicans were reminded that Mitt Romney looked like a leading man but lacked the magic; that Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee were never going to be more than character actors; and that Rudy Giuliani was a one-hit wonder as a leading man. While the runners-up looked on bravely, Palin blew past them to the head of the line, a cloud of snow and mystery in her wake.
On another level, Palin thrilled the Republicans by showing that Barack Obama has vulnerabilities, and she knows how to poke them. When McCain sprang his surprise choice on the public, the initial analysis held that by putting the rookie Governor of Alaska on the ticket he had erased the issue of experience. But like a lot of early thinking, that was wrong. Palin put the experience issue front and center, because suddenly America was seriously weighing the relative qualifications of the Democratic nominee versus the recent mayor of Wasilla. That’s a comparison Obama loses simply by being involved in it.
In preparing this post, I listened to her speech again. As I did so, I was reminded of something Governor Rick Perry of Texas said a couple weeks ago. Emily Esfahani Smith interviewed Governor Perry for an article in The Wall Street Journal . In that interview, Mr. Perry was asked about the ideological divide in the GOP:
The political divide, the governor insists, is between "mushy, middle of the road" Republicans and clear, devoted fiscal and social conservatives, like himself and Sarah Palin.
On that last point, he states emphatically, "I love Sarah Palin, I love her positions, I think she was a good governor. . . . I want her to be engaged in this rebuilding of the Republican Party. . . . She is substantially more the face of this country than some other people who might want to be the face of the Republican Party. To me she’s the face of America. I mean she’s a hard worker, she didn’t come from money, she didn’t come from privilege, she just worked hard. . . . I have not seen another person who invigorated the Republican base [like she did] with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan in 1976—the speech he made at the Republican Convention. People were looking around and saying, ‘we nominated the wrong dude.'"
We nominated the wrong person.
Who among us didn’t have that thought pop into our heads at least once on that fateful night one year ago? With that mesmerizing speech, she took control of the convention and the party. She moved to the head of the table. McCain’s speech the following night was an anticlimactic afterthought, much like Gerald Ford’s speech was in 1976. Before Ford spoke, Ronald Reagan gave a short, impromptu speech:
In 1976, ordinary barbarians glimpsed their future when Ronald Reagan spoke at the request of the delegates. They knew in their hearts that they had nominated the wrong candidate. On the evening of September 3, 2008, ordinary barbarians were again given a glimpse of their future when Governor Palin delivered that magnificent speech. In the future, if she chooses to lead us, we will follow.