Rudy Giuliani is a tough act to follow. He loves campaigning, and when the crowd began to yell, “Drill, baby, drill,” he ate it up. Following him, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin needed to be nearly perfect. And she was.
Palin’s performance was so good, her vice presidential adversary, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) will not be able to bob and weave only in the October 2 debate. He may float like a butterfly, but Palin stings like a bee.
Her readiness for a national contest has been attacked relentlessly in the past six days by every organ of the left, and they left no device unused. Those watching MSNBC for comic relief weren’t disappointed Wednesday night. Chris Matthews was seated against a backdrop of 9-11 “truther” protesters, signs displayed and shouts overheard. It’ll be a level of media political activism that only the New York Times will top. Just wait for Thursday’s editorial page.
But after last night, no one can doubt that she’s ready for prime time.
Palin attacked the Democrats’ weaknesses seriatim. She mocked their tax-hiking plans, asking how that will help families, small businessmen and big businesses trying to create jobs. Palin chastised them for their eagerness to lose in Iraq. She spoke forcefully of her son Track whose army unit will deploy to Iraq next week on the anniversary of 9-11. Her nephew Casey is serving on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. She said, “My family is proud of both of them and of all the fine men and women serving the country in uniform.”
She spoke eloquently of her small town roots and used them expertly to develop her story about her success as the chief executive of an energy-rich state. And to attack Obama.
Palin said, “I was just your average hockey mom and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids’ public education better. When I ran for city council, I didn’t need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too.
"Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown.
"And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves.
"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening. We tend to prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.”
Palin didn’t need to speak directly about the right to life, but she did so indirectly, in a way that will reverberate through November 4:
“In our family, it’s two boys and three girls in between — my strong and kind-hearted daughters Bristol, Willow, and Piper. And in April, my husband Todd and I welcomed our littlest one into the world, a perfectly beautiful baby boy named Trig. From the inside, no family ever seems typical. That’s how it is with us. Our family has the same ups and downs as any other … the same challenges and the same joys.
"Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge. And children with special needs inspire a special love.” There’s no moral equivalence in that, no compromise with the abortion at all times and at all costs Democratic ticket.
Palin did best in denying the legitimacy of Obama’s “Change” sloganeering.
She said, “ But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion — I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people.
"Politics isn’t just a game of clashing parties and competing interests.
"The right reason is to challenge the status quo, to serve the common good, and to leave this nation better than we found it. No one expects us to agree on everything. But we are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and … a servant’s heart.
"I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States. This was the spirit that brought me to the governor’s office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau … when I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol’ boys network.
"Sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power brokers. That’s why true reform is so hard to achieve. But with the support of the citizens of Alaska, we shook things up. And in short order we put the government of our state back on the side of the people.
"I came to office promising major ethics reform, to end the culture of self-dealing. And today, that ethics reform is the law.
"While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor’s office that I didn’t believe our citizens should have to pay for. That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay.
I also drive myself to work. And I thought we could muddle through without the governor’s personal chef — although I’ve got to admit that sometimes my kids sure miss her. I came to office promising to control spending — by request if possible and by veto if necessary. Senator McCain also promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest — and as a chief executive, I can assure you it works.”
Palin contrasted her real reforms, against which Obama’s “Change” mantra will seem hollow. She said, “Our state budget is under control. We have a surplus. And I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending: nearly half a billion dollars in vetoes. I suspended the state fuel tax, and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress "thanks, but no thanks," for that Bridge to Nowhere.
"If our state wanted a bridge, we’d build it ourselves. When oil and gas prices went up dramatically, and filled up the state treasury, I sent a large share of that revenue back where it belonged – directly to the people of Alaska."
Palin is serious about developing American energy. She’s done it. “I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history. And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.”
The kicker was, “Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems — as if we all didn’t know that already. But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.”
She was very specific, promising an energy policy that will drill, develop and build. “Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines … build more nuclear plants … create jobs with clean coal … and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources. We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers.”
That’s a big promise that Palin can, and must, make the central focus of her campaign.
Just as the crowd chanted at Rudy Giuliani, “drill, baby, drill”, Palin wants to do it right now.
As I’ve written before, if this campaign can be turned into a contest between “Drill Now” Sarah and “Drill Nothing” Nancy, Republicans can win the White House. And a lot more.