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Why I Was Disappointed With Palin’s Tea Party Speech

I posted this elsewhere as a comment and decided to add & expand on it as a diary entry.  I know there’s a lot of Palin lovers out there and she has a lot to commend her, no debate.  When I sat down to commit an hour of my time tonight with my wife to her speech at the Tea Party Convention, it was with as much goodwill as I could muster.  What happened, though, was me ending up with the couch pillow pressed over my ears from an early point in the video. And shouts of “no!”,”no!”, and “don’t go there!” several times.

I couldn’t believe it.  She started out decently enough, doing the expected green truck references, etc.  But then it started.  Her speech devolved too quickly into a virtual rehash of her 2008 message, concept for concept, only now laced with (all too) concrete examples of the current administration’s failures. I don’t begrudge her that, and even had a big chuckle over the Biden comments.

However, she really seemed to not be aware of the core tea party (small case) principles, limited & decentralized gov’t and extreme fiscal restraint.  Or, her prep work missed the essentials of what she should have been hitting hard on.  Either way, her intense foreign policy segment seemed to me to be where the wheels started coming off of the speech. It’s obvious to even casual observers that the tea party movement is a growing coalition that has lots of members who are not “hawks” in even the remotest sense. Libertarians and Paulites in the audience were probably appalled at her reading on foreign interventions.

Then the McCain stuff was just uncalled for…why even go there? The crowd shots during the middle of her speech were telling – lots of tense faces and arms crossed. Nobody needed reminding of the fall of 2008 in that room.  Even a lingering sense of loyalty to the man did not justify the time given to him at a gathering of tea partiers.

I firmly believe that the tea party (small case) crowd is more likely to be better informed on the consitutional issues than the typical “base” voter. Really, that’s the glue that holds the whole movement together. The garden variety tea partier is looking to throw the bums out (both parties included) and start over with constitionalists. Instead of “throw the bums out” she went down the “tough love/bipartisan” road instead. Sorry, I stood smack in the middle of the 9/12 rally and there wasn’t a SINGLE “bipartisanship now!” placard in sight…to a tea partier it’s not about “solving problems” in the economy and “drill now, baby”. It’s about “throw the bums out and start over”, Sarah.

Perhaps it was the whole notion of a “Tea Party” (in caps) “Convention” that that she was playing to, and I do give her high marks for chutzpah etc etc as stated by everyone else. But I suspect she’ll have to do a lot more homework on what is making that movement tick before she’d be ready to expect broad-based support from that corner.  If it wasn’t for her star power, I don’t think her talking points would have earned her a speaking slot.  The Q & A was a redemptive point, however, in my opinion.

As my wife astutely pointed out – “it seems as though she doesn’t know who she is yet”.  It will be interesting to see how her fortunes mesh with the fortunes of the tea party movement in general over the next year or so.  As it stands, I’ll take Marco Rubio or Chuck DeVore any day.

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