Sarah Palin Hits a Grand Slam

John ArmstrongPolitics

The mainstream media (MSN) in the United States clearly has a high opinion of itself. Again and again they have expressed this view by telling us that they should have been directly involved in vetting Sarah Palin for the vice-presidency. Plainly they are not happy. But nothing, and I mean nothing, in either the history of this process, or the Constitution, requires the media to approve who a candidate chooses to run with them for the vice presidency. The candidate for president gets to make this choice, regardless of what we think. It is then for the voters, not the MSM, to decide if the candidate made a good choice or a bad one. Now the person chosen by Senator John McCain has presented a bit of her life to us, along with her political views. It will be our choice as to which ticket we now will elect on November 4.

The near unanimous opinion, even of McCain’s harshest critics, was that Governor Sarah Palin gave a truly great speech this evening. I watched commentators on NBC, ABC, CNN and Fox. Only Carl Bernstein, which is no great surprise, seemed unimpressed with Governor Palin. Even Democrats on the floor, serving as commentators, seemed stunned that this woman could knock the ball out of the park. They chose to focus on who wrote her speech rather than who delivered it. In its own way this subtly suggests the woman couldn’t have done this on her own. The problem with this argument is obvious. All the candidates use speech writers. But all have to deliver what they want to say and say it as their own words. 

Let me explain something about giving a speech before a huge crowd. I have done it. I have spoken, since I was seventeen years old, in public settings. Crowds I have spoken to have ranged from as few as 10 to 4,000. But in 2001, and again in 2003, I spoke for Promise Keepers conferences in large arenas where there were between 15,000 and 20,000 people. The bright lights, the energy in the crowd, the huge platform, everything but a national television audience was there. And there were live interviews and radio coverage to boot. I have almost never been intimated by crowds but these two events brought some unusual pressures. I wanted to speak clearly, without fear and right to the point. I must tell you that the first such event was very intimidating. It took me a while to get into the message and get over the things going on around me. Because of this experience I have a small understanding of what went on tonight. Sarah Palin was comfortable, confident and focused. Whether you liked the content of her speech or not she was brilliant. Obama was also very good last Thursday but in a different way. Palin was his equal and a week ago we did not know her name. In fact, John McCain will likely not be able to deliver as good a speech as what we heard this evening.

One speech does not make Sarah Palin qualified to lead. But it surely opened eyes and made a compelling case for the fact that this woman is not a lightweight as the MSM has been telling us. I said it last evening. McCain knew what he was doing in making this choice and the fact that the MSM didn’t get to know her or become involved in “vetting” McCain’s choice means nothing to him. My guess is that he is delighted by this fact. This is vintage John McCain. He didn’t get the label “maverick” from just showing up.

There is a deep well of conservative populism in this country. There is also a wide divide between the left and the right. This election just may swing people and themes toward a populist tone in the end. If it does then Obama is not a lock on winning the election. Palin just became the new “wild card” tonight. She was superb. When her family appeared on the stage, after she spoke, you would have to be a calculated ideologue not to have been moved.

I am also moved by Barack Obama being the first African-American major party nominee for the presidency. I have said so for months. But I am moved by Sarah Palin being the first Republican woman to be nominated for the vice-presidency. This election is truly unlike any that we have seen in many years. This woman, who most of us had not paid any attention to until last Friday, got me much more interested about the election than I was before tonight. She was compelling. I now look forward to how she does in her debate with Joe Biden and in her appearances on the interview circuit. I believe that she will look just as good in sixty days as she did tonight. Why? She is gifted, passionate and truly believes what she says. She represents a new generation, and a new politics, just as much as Obama does. Both Palin and Obama break new ground and speak in new ways. Many do not see this but astute observers recognize it for what it is. She brings to John McCain something that he really needed. Calling his choice "raw politics" is like suggesting that the other side is not political at all. Of course she was a political choice. Why not? This is a political race for an election. Now the American people can listen and then vote for who they want to lead them.

This is a great country and this process, though much too long, is still a great spectacle and a wonderful display of freedom. Anyone who doesn’t see this knows very little about political history or the world in our time. A peaceful election process is simply taken for granted in the U.S. I thank God for it and do not take it for granted at all. I am, frankly, awed by it. I was when I saw my first televised convention in 1952 and wore an “I like Ike” button. And I was again in 1960 when I saw John Kennedy become the first Catholic to be elected a U. S. President. I had the same feeling in 1980 when Reagan offered us new hope.

It will be interesting to see how the MSM treats this speech over the next few days. They have regularly reminded us, for eight years, that George W. Bush is not a great speaker who moves people. In his case they are right. Bush is a disappointing speaker. But what will they do now that there is a woman, who is not a radical feminist, who can speak with such grace, ease, power and forcefulness? Sarah Palin intentionally “stuck the political knife” into Obama several times tonight and smiled every time. A female CNN commentator said that a woman can do this much better than a man. I agree. Sarah Palin did it with amazing grace and profound political savvy. Even her critics on policy should admit that she passed her first test with flying colors.