Roundup: Real time media reviews of Governor Palin’s 2008 RNC speech

In a post five years ago today, I compiled a short list of highlights from some of the media reviews of Governor Palin’s much acclaimed 2008 RNC speech. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll simply quote the relevant parts of that piece below. Also, be sure to check out Whitney’s post from earlier today to read her insightful take on the significance and prescience of the Governor’s famous 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

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

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

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.

When I read that stuff, I’m still mystified by the Romney campaign’s bizarre decision to exclude Governor Palin from the 2012 convention. His comatose convention and, indeed, entire campaign was more a prescription for insomnia than a quest to rally the country around a core set of principles. Governor Palin’s inclusion would have provided sorely needed energy and excitement to a campaign completely devoid of it. Indeed the Mittster and his establishment cronies went out of their way to alienate, if not outrage, the very people whose dedication and active participation he needed to win. Consequently a significant number of them — myself included — didn’t.

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