Sarah Palin gave her most robust and perhaps telling speech yet on a snowy Saturday in Madison, Wis. Speaking to a tea party gathering of anywhere between 6,000 and 9,000 -- not all of whom were supporters -- Palin spoke in support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's recent battle with unions in the state. She spoke glowingly of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan, a plan that would basically abolish government-run Medicare and Medicaid.
Palin derided the GOP "establishment" and accused them of simply rearranging "the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic." And in a line that will surely be repeated, she used the Wisconsin women's hockey team as an example of the way the GOP needs to learn to fight: "Like a girl."
But the real fire in the speech was saved for attacking President Obama. And attack she did. Palin is never one to shy from a good tongue lashing, but she was in rare form on Saturday. She accused Obama of "class warfare," "fear mongering," and "cowardice," not to mention throwing "hatred and violence at the good folks in Madison, Wisconsin."
And that was just for starters.
It all sounded a lot like a campaign stump speech, and an awfully effective one, if you've got a taste for red meat. Many of her supporters heard it that way, anyway, and as red-meat lovers, they rejoiced. It has been a while since Palin has given any signs she may run for president. She, unlike many other candidates, hasn't been visiting Iowa in preparation for the first-in-the-nation caucus and straw-poll, a traditional must for presidential aspirants. Spokespeople for both the Democratic and Republican parties in Iowa haven't seen her or her people there recently. Indeed, aside from giving a few speeches, she's done little to set herself up as a candidate anywhere in the country.
All of this seemed to hearten the very GOP establishment she so vehemently attacked on Saturday. But lately those in Palinland seemed to be feeling a bit dejected. Conservatives4Palin.com posted a few pieces in recent weeks intended to bolster supporters. In one piece a writer tries to get in the mind of Palin. Attempting to channel her, the writer said, "If I thought it was doubtful that I would run, there are some actions I would not have taken in the last few months." And, "I have children in school until June. I expect to travel abroad for a week or more. I will not make any announcement until after these events. Campaign Finance laws also dictate the announcement timing."
Comments generally expressed relief. Another piece made a case that a run by Rep. Michelle Bachman, another tea party favorite, is good for Palin.
Soon after Palin's speech on Saturday, her online supporters went wild. Supporters on Twitter were particularly elated. California radio talk show Tammy Bruce wrote, "You don't need a time machine to know what the 45th president looks like." Others said much the same. Thousands of others simply echoed Palin's closing line. At the end of her speech, Palin said, "It starts here! It starts now! What better place than the state that hosts the Super Bowl champs to call out the liberal left and let them know: Mr. President, game on!"
Game on, in full attack mode. You haven't heard the last of that one. On a cold Wisconsin day, she was just warming up. And if she wasn't, she's going to have some very, very unhappy supporters, ones who will see her as losing that game, perhaps forever.
Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com