Palin's weekend closeups: Tea Party and 'palm pilot'

February 8, 2010 

In the wake of Sarah Palin's speech Saturday at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, the movement's factions continue to debate whether she and the convention captured their spirit. The speech was well-received by the audience, which chanted "Run, Sarah, Run." But a Nashville Post blogger says Palin's speech was, plain and simple, self-serving. "Palin didn't give a tea party speech last night. She gave a partisan Republican address. It was a purely political speech designed to position her for a presidential run in 2012 or 2016. Period. She wasn't there to celebrate the organic nature of a movement she had nothing to do with creating. She was there to co-opt the name and claim the brand as hers. And she did." Continued after jump

Rick Ungar, writing at True/Slant, agrees and says further that Palin is not the "serious leader" the movement needs. "That early message of The Tea Party seems to have been forgotten. If this movement is to progress, they will need to recall the importance of character in those who would lead -- and Sarah Palin clearly does not possess the character to be a legitimate leader of any political movement."

Why didn't Palin take advantage of the opportunity to define the Tea Party as a serious movement with good ideas, wonders Daniel Stone at Newsweek. "She filled her speech with applause lines and one-liner jabs, not a road map of specifics for a way forward."

But that doesn't matter, writes Michael Wolff of Newser.com. "[Critics miss] how really compelling she is. Unaccountably amazing. It could be the meaninglessness itself, and her confidence in it, that is so riveting. But I think it's something else. It is, that, curiously, she makes sense." American Thinker's C. Edmund Wright says Palin's tone was perfect for the times: "Palin clearly tied the movement and the future of the country to an embrace of the Constitution and the principles of Reagan. She sees a conservative ascendancy within the GOP. The former governor also made it clear that the movement is about ideas, not about self-indulgent would-be leaders."

Video of Palin's glance at her "palm cheat sheet" is perhaps the most popular online link from Palin's weekend today. She consulted her left hand during the Q&A that followed her Nashville speech, and a close-up photo published by The Huffington Post showed she had written "Energy," "Tax" and "Lift American Spirits." "Budget cuts" was there, but "Budget" was crossed out. Mockery was led by NBC's Andrea Mitchell, who called Palin a hypocrite for attacking President Obama's use of a teleprompter.

But the "palm pilot" furor is nonsense, counters Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit: "The far left absolutely freaked over this nonissue rather than focus on her brilliant speech knocking the Obama Administration's horrid record." A Fox News host called the palm notes "folksy" and "down to earth." And Stephen Spruiell at National Review accuses the left of implying that writing on your hand is amateurish. "On the left, where this opinion of Palin already prevails, anything which reinforces it will be picked up and cheerfully passed around. And, to the extent that anyone not on the left notices this giddy snobbery, it will play to Palin's strengths."

Jump over to NPR's "The Two-Way" if you want to weigh in on whether a politician relying on hand notes (or a teleprompter) bothers you.

Meanwhile, The Raw Story and political analyst Andy Ostroy, in The Huffington Post, provide fact checks on Palin's Tea Party speech, and Talking Points Memo calls the convention "the return of birtherism, homophobia, racial paranoia" to the national stage. Palin ignored the criticism and followed her speech with Sunday appearances on national television, telling Fox News -- in perhaps her strongest indication yet that she's still a politician -- that she'll run for president "if I believed that that is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family."

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