On Wednesday night, all of America watched a spectacular new comet streak across the political sky, as Sarah Palin, self-styled “Hockey Mom” Governor of Alaska, delivered her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
With impeccable timing and an easy-going folksy style well suited to her small town Alaska roots, Palin dazzled the receptive Republican crowd in the Xcel Center. Meanwhile, liberals and Democrats across the land watched in horror as she deftly skewered their standard bearer, Barack Obama, and the entire Democratic Party platform in a speech that will certainly be long remembered for its historical importance.
Much has been made of Palin's so-called “lack of experience” in the five days since John McCain announced she was his pick for the vice president slot on the Republican ticket. On Wednesday night, she dispelled those doubts unequivocally.
It has been said that, should the unthinkable occur and McCain die in office, she is not ready to assume the Presidency; her “thin” resume makes her unfit for the top job. It's ironic that the Democrats have taken this tack. When one compares Palin's career as a politician with Barack Obama's, the advantage she has over Obama is readily apparent and striking. Palin, unlike Obama, has actually been in charge — first , as mayor of her small home town of Wasilla, Alaska, and then as Governor of our northernmost state. Obama's experience, as was pointed out in speeches by several Republican luminaries, including former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, does not include executive responsibility for anything at any point in his career.
Palin also contrasted the differences between her own resume and Obama's, beginning with an amusing crack about how, upon first taking office, she disposed of the Governor's private jet, which she described as being “over the top.” With perfect timing, she paused, and with an engaging grin, told her audience, “I put it on eBay.” The delighted crowd roared, whistled, and clapped.
True to her role as a “pit bull with lipstick,” Palin also took several direct jabs at Obama, some of which were cleverly amusing. Alluding to Obama's soaring, but empty rhetoric, as well the extravagance and glitz of the Democratic convention in Denver last week, she said:
This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed … when the roar of the crowd fades away … when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot – what exactly is our opponent's plan?
Much of her speech was devoted to praise of John McCain, including an anecdote told her by one of McCain's fellow POWs, Tom Moe, of Lancaster, OH in which Moe described McCain's indomitable spirit as, returning to his cell day after day from torture sessions with his captors, McCain would pass the door of Moe's cell, and knowing Moe would be watching him through a pinhole in the door, McCain would “flash a grin and thumbs up – as if to say, "We're going to pull through this."
Throughout, Palin had the audience enthralled. She was completely at ease in this, her first ever national speech; at times ironic, occasionally strong, and forceful. She was interrupted numerous times by applause and cheering from the enthusiastic audience. In their minds, she removed all doubt about her ability to meet the challenges of not only the campaign, but also the responsibilities of the office.
Palin closed with one last slapshot at Obama, saying:
"For a season, A gifted speaker can inspire with his words. For a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds."
An excellent closing, perfectly delivered. It was truly a speech for the ages.