Sarah Palin came to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. on her 48th birthday. The crowd serenaded her. And her speech was received raucously, as conservatives saw in her someone who articulated conservatism while clearly — and surgically and defiantly — differentiating herself from President Barack Obama.
Symbolically clad in a bold-red blouse (and not in a pale, pink pastel color, which symbolizes the Republican establishment of which she is not a part), Palin also reminded the CPAC audience why CPAC was born.
“Conservatives wanted not so much government but the Republican Party to hear us,” Palin said, in describing the genesis of CPAC. “At the 1975 CPAC, Ronald Reagan … laid out a blueprint for rebuilding the GOP under a banner of bold colors not pale pastels … And ever since then, CPAC has been a rally for conservative action.”
Added Palin: “Today, the conservative movement has never been stronger or brighter … Yet, the federal government has never cast a bigger shadow.”
But while Palin said Americans were waving a “bold banner that shouts ‘Don’t Tread on Me’” and that “our movement is bigger than one person, one candidate, one party …”, the conservative movement lacks a leader who can not only galvanize conservatives but also attack the opposition while having a record to personally back up those criticisms.
And on a day when Palin reportedly generated more enthusiasm than every presidential candidate combined who spoke at CPAC and owned the room and conference, one could not wonder how many who were listening to the speech were coming to the realization that Palin should be the GOP nominee for president much in the same way the majority in attendance at Kemper Arena in Kansas City in 1976 at the Republican National Convention, in their hearts, knew that Ronald Reagan — and not Gerald Ford — was the rightful standard-bearer of bold conservatism.
Exhibit A: Palin indicted Obama for his “Winning the Future” plan she dubbed “his WTF plan” and his “bankrupt green energy plan,” and said, regarding the debt: “Cut it, gut it, get rid of it.”
Exhibit B: She fiercely defended life: “We believe every child is created equal with right to life,” Palin passionately said. “I ask you to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves … if not us, then who?”
Exhibit C: Palin said she did not want Obama’s economy that lasts and, instead, wanted an end to his administration and false promises.
“He can keep his change,” Palin said. “We’ll keep our God, our guns, our Constitution.”
Exhibit D: Palin’s fiercest words were against the crony capitalistic system of Washington that has turned all Americans off.
Palin said this is not the Washington of our founding fathers and it is “something our forefathers never envisioned.” She said the “permanent political class is content,” and they exempt themselves and play by a different set of rules.
She said the “money-making opportunities” for those in D.C. are endless and they “spread their wealth” to their friends and donors. Palin has repeatedly rebuked and attacked this culture of “crony capitalism.”
“This isn’t the capitalism of free men and free markets,” Palin said. “It’s the capitalism of connections. … This is the capitalism of Barack Obama of the permanent political class.”
She called Washington a “playground of the government rich” where “millionaires are minted overnight” even though nothing is produced except favors to friends and cronies.
“Our permanent political class is content, they are immune to the realities that the rest of us face; they exempt themselves, they play by their different set of rules,” Palin said, before adding politicians are elected by promising more programs and “new freebies and new favors” and government grows to accommodate their promises.
“It never shrinks,” Palin said, in reference to the ever-growing government that “crowds out equal opportunity” and “extinguishes the independent, pioneering American spirit.”
She said politicians run by indicting Washington as a “cesspool” but then, once they arrive in Washington, decide it is like a hot tub.
“Well America, it is time we drain the jacuzzi and we throw the bums out with the bath water,” Palin said.
And then, Palin brought down the hammer. Walked the walk. And cast herself as someone who faced the same problem that Obama faced and took a different path than Obama.
“I came from a state with a corruption problem too — though you don’t make many friends in the establishment doing it, I fought the corrupt political mistake,” Palin said. “Barack Obama used it … he brought it here with him.”
To combat Obama’s cronyism, Palin said conservatives needed reinforcements and the Republican establishment should give the coming reinforcements leadership posts and described why it was essential for Republicans to be united in the fall.
But while she said conservatives and Republicans had to unite around the eventual nominee that she hoped would address CPAC in 2013, Palin said that the GOP nominee must be “strong,” “fortified,” “passionate,” and “a fighter for America’s ideals.”
She added, in a veiled shot at Mitt Romney: “Our candidate must be someone who can instinctively turn right to constitutional conservative principles,” Palin said. “It’s too late in the game to teach it or spin it … it’s either there or it isn’t.”
Palin said the 2012 election was critical because Americans could “look to the old world to see the new world’s future” if America does not take care of its fiscal crisis.
“So help me God, it’s not the future we will ever accept,” Palin said.
Palin will not accept that future because it is an un-exceptional one. An un-American one, to say the least.
“We are the heirs of patriots who cast off the chains of tyranny, of immigrants who braved the seas, of pioneers who pushed into the great unknown, of soldiers who stormed foreign shores, of farmers and workers laboring in field and in factories from dusk to dawn,” Palin said. “They toiled so their children would have a better life. That is America. And that is freedom. And that is why we are exceptional.”
Palin repeatedly said the door was open for a conservative victory, but the door that seemed to be open the widest was the one to her political future as the leader of the conservative movement and as heiress to the Reagan legacy.
It was her Party on Saturday, and it could be for the foreseeable future.