As expected, Sarah Palin made a worldwide splash with her speech at the 16th Annual CLSA Investor’s Forum. According to CLSA’s website it was standing room only with over 1100 institutional fund managers and heads of leading Asian, Australian and US corporations.

Reports are Sarah received a lengthy standing ovation at the end of her speech. It’s also reported that a couple of whiny liberals left before she was finished., I guess they couldn’t handle the truth! They also wouldn’t go on the record. No guts, no glory!

In his introduction, CLSA Chairman and CEO, Jonathan Slone, quoted President Eisenhower on the responsibilities of citizens in a democratic society to debate issues that matter.

Following her remarks, Governor Palin responded to questions from CLSA’s clients.

You know how one knows this thing was a home run? The New York Times ran a fair story about Sarah’s speech without an ounce of snark! I imagine Maureen Dowd had a stroke!

From the New York Times:

HONG KONG — Sarah Palin, in what was billed as her first speech overseas, spoke on Wednesday to Asian bankers,investors and fund managers.

A number of people who heard the speech in a packed hotel ballroom, which was closed to the media, said Mrs. Palin spoke from notes for 90 minutes and that she was articulate, well-prepared and even compelling.

“The speech was wide-ranging, very balanced, and she beat all expectations,” said Doug A. Coulter, head of private equity in the Asia-Pacific region for LGT Capital Partners.

“She didn’t sound at all like a far-right-wing conservative. She seemed to be positioning herself as a libertarian or a small-c conservative,” he said, adding that she mentioned both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. “She brought up both those names.”

Of course, the comparison’s of Sarah Palin to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are inevitable We’ve done it ourselves. No less than Michael Reagan, son of the great Renaldus Magnus, has compared the two favorably as well, as he did in his piece: “Welcome Back Dad.”

Last December, writing in the Wall Street Journal, John O’Sullivan wrote a piece called “Conservative Snobs Are Wrong About Palin.” In his article, he compares Sarah favorable to Lady Thatcher, and cites Sarah’s executive experience as a major reason for why she will be successful on the larger stage. It should be noted that O’Sullivan was a special adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Now let’s be honest. Sarah Palin is not Ronald Reagan, or Maggie Thatcher. Sarah is her own person, with her own ideas, and her own brand of conservatism. But Reagan was a huge influence on her, and as Reagan and Thatcher really dominated the world stage in their day, I’m sure some of that interaction made an impression on a young Sarah Palin.

“Common sense conservatism” was a common theme from those that heard her speech.

Here’s the reason why everyone and their uncle compares Sarah Palin favorably to Ronald Reagan. Like Reagan, Sarah Palin is strong, and unwavering in her beliefs. She will tell you what she thinks, straight up, just like Reagan. And like Reagan, Sarah says what she means, and means what she says.

Sarah also articulates conservatism, real conservatism better than anyone out there today. This too is something she shares with Reagan, along with an unabashed love for America, and an unbridled optimism. Reagan’s optimism was key to his success. Reagan, like Sarah, was a realist, he knew we had issues, but at the end of the day, He knew America had it in her to shine. You hear that same spirit in Sarah Palin every time she speaks.

So fairly, or unfairly, this is why the two are always compared, and compared favorable. As a recent Rasmussen poll pointed out, “being like Ronald Reagan” is the only positive political description that voters care about. It’s the gold standard that all conservatives are judged by.

More from the Times:

Cameron Sinclair, another speaker at the event, said Mrs. Palin emphasized the need for a grassroots rebirth of the Republican Party driven by party leaders outside Washington.

A number of attendees thought Mrs. Palin, the former vice presidential candidate, was using the speech to begin to broaden her foreign policy credentials before making a run for the presidency in 2012.

“She’s definitely a serious future presidential candidate, and I understand why she plays so well in middle America,” said Mr. Coulter, a Canadian.

And this from a New Yorker and an Obama supporter who attended:

Melvin Goodé, a regional marketing consultant, thought Mrs. Palin chose Hong Kong because, he said, it was “a place where things happen and where freedom can be expanded upon.”

“It’s not Beijing or Shanghai,” said Mr. Goodé . “She also mentioned Tibet, Burma and North Korea in the same breath as places where China should be more sensitive and careful about how people are treated. She said it on a human-rights level.”

Mr. Goodé, an African-American who said he did some campaign polling for President Obama, said Mrs. Palin mentioned President Obama three times on Wednesday.

“And there was nothing derogatory in it, no sleight of hand, and believe me, I was listening for that,” he said, adding that Mrs. Palin referred to Mr. Obama as “our president,” with the emphasis on “our.”

Mr. Goodé, a New Yorker who said he would never vote for Mrs. Palin, said she acquitted herself well.

“She was articulate and she held her own. I give her credit. They’ve tried to categorize her as not being bright. She’s bright.”

Appearing Wednesday night “On The Record” with Greta Van Susteren, Wall Street Journal’s Asia page editor Mary Kissel, who was in Hong Kong, told Greta that Sarah’s appearance generated the most interest in the forum’s 16 year history. That the media even followed her to the airport as she was leaving the country.

Speaking of which, the Wall Street Journal, had this to say:

The former vice presidential candidate understands Beijing better than the Obama Administration does.

The Journal added:

Sarah Palin was pounded by the media as a foreign-policy novice during last year’s presidential campaign. But when it comes to the U.S. approach toward China, she has ideas worth listening to.

“Twenty years ago, many believed that as China liberalized its economy, greater political freedom would naturally follow,” the former Alaska governor and Republican nominee for the vice presidency told a Hong Kong audience yesterday. “Unfortunately that has not come to pass.”

Mrs. Palin sees China’s authoritarian nature as a security concern for the U.S. and its allies in Asia-Pacific, and she has a point. North Korea, Burma and other rogue regimes couldn’t sustain themselves without Chinese support. Not to mention the hundreds of missiles Beijing has pointed at Taiwan and its navy’s increasingly muscular attitude in the South China Sea. “How many books and articles have been written about the dangers of India’s rise?” she asked.

The solution, she argues, is to encourage political change from within China—a movement that regained momentum last year with the launch of Charter 08, a democratic manifesto.

Such developments, she argued, are in everyone’s interest. “The more politically open and just China is, the more Chinese citizens of every ethnicity will settle disputes in courts rather than on the streets,” she said. The more open China is, “the less we will be concerned about its military buildup and intentions.”

Mrs. Palin also espoused the value of alliances with like-minded democratic countries in the region such as Japan, Australia and India. The U.S. “can, must and should” work with China to address issues of “mutual concern,” she said. “But we also need to work with our allies in addressing the uncertainties created by China’s rise.”

The Obama Administration could take a page from this book. So far, the White House has gone out of its way to downplay human rights in China and tiptoe around recent crackdowns in Tibet and Xinjiang, preferring to focus on hipper issues like climate change. This “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to Beijing does no favors to the Chinese people, much less to the West’s core interests in Asia. At the same time, America’s other alliances in the region have been largely ignored.

Mrs. Palin also made a timely call against trade protectionism—an issue that will be high on the U.S.-China agenda this week at the Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh. She spoke up for the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement, now stalled in the U.S. Congress. She also called the Obama Administration’s decision to slap a 35% duty on Chinese tires a “mistake,” while adding that China needed to respect intellectual property rights and “improve its rule of law.” Again, she made the connection with human-rights: “Our economic relationship will truly thrive when Chinese citizens and foreign corporations can hold the Chinese government accountable.”

Mrs. Palin’s speech will almost surely be dismissed by her critics as a scripted exercise. What we heard was a balanced and realistic view of China, founded on universal values that Westerners and Chinese alike can believe in.

Appearing on Sean Hannity’s “Great American Panel” Wednesday Night, famed Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz has this to say:

“Sarah Palin excites me. She stands for something.”

Holtz went on to expand on this, noting that Ronald Reagan’s successes came from standing for something, and that this recent tendency to “moderate” the message in an attempt to draw people in is a mistake. This echoes what we have been saying for a long time. Be who you are, true to your school. Reagan had the same conservative message for every single American.

People want someone who stands for something, believes in something. Those are the people we know we can trust. Those are the people we know will never, ever waver under pressure.

Sarah herself, recognizing folks wanted to hear a little bit of what she had to say in her address, released excerpts of her speech on her Facebook page, which we covered here.

Having read the excerpts from her speech, it’s simple to say this was some serious red meat, a nice, thick, grilled ribeye steak with garlic mashed potatoes and some veggies on the side, in fact! A good solid meal that was very filling.

It’s going to be a lot of fun watching Sarah Palin out there being Sarah Palin. For long time Palinistas, this is the Sarah Palin we liked before it was really cool to like Sarah Palin!

Airport photo courtesy Asia Media, Speech photos courtesy CLSA.