The best natural speechmaker since Reagan - Macleans.ca

The best natural speechmaker since Reagan

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It was that good. No, she’s not qualified, and the substance was thin, but my God — that was perhaps the greatest bit of political theatre I have ever witnessed. Her critics in the media and in the opposition may regret having piled on quite so enthusiastically, and with so little heed for who they hurt — or angered. Watching the tumultuous, ecstatic reaction in the hall, I was reminded of the famous words of the Admiral Yamamoto after Pearl Harbour: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant, and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Sarah Palin walked out onto that stage under more scrutiny, with less preparation, and with more at stake, than any candidate in living memory. You’d never know it.

UPDATE: How’s it playing? Of course it’s boffo with the Republican right. But with moderates and independents? Over at the New Republic, not normally known as a cheerleader for the GOP, the consensus is it was a remarkably effective speech, even “alarmingly” so:

Several moderate-Democrat friends of mine have been emailing — few if any would ever vote for McCain– but all agree that Palin was very strong. The more liberal among them are a little panicked. 

More from the centre-left TPM Cafe:

… if you didn’t sense last night how deeply Sarah Palin channeled some of the country’s deepest, most powerful currents of pent-up indignation and yearning, you don’t sense the trouble we Democrats are in. 

Rhetorically, she was the anti-Obama. She was stirring precisely because she was so artless, matter-of fact, and “American” — with no cadences or grand, historic resonances, but with plenty of mother wit and shrewdness. Credit her as much as the speechwriters.

The two currents she tapped — the ones that roared up from so deep in the crowd that you could feel them riding on love more than hate — weren’t the ones unleashed by her or Rudy Giuliani’s disparagements of Obama.

They were riptides of deeply wounded pride and groping loyalty, a yearning for vindication of something that is not to be disparaged at all.

The first such riptide was unleashed by Palin’s and Giuliani’s accounts of John McCain’s career-threatening commitment, a year ago, when his campaign was hopeless, to an American military victory in Iraq, Right or wrong — and I think it was wrong — it was a commitment grounded in an uncommon courage that will be dismissed as stupidity only by smart-asses who really want to lose this election.

The second current was tapped by Palin’s own grounded, calm confidence that “ordinary people’s” common sense – her kind, and a lot of other people’s – is what it takes to pull this country through its converging crises.