Gov. Sarah Palin walked out to the Convention podium and drove a four inch stiletto heel through the heart of the Obama-Biden anticipated coronation.
Palin took to the stage to such thunderous applause that I worried she would not be able to deliver her speech in prime time. The crowd would not sit down or stop clapping.
I had no idea that the applause interruptions threw off the teleprompter's timing, forcing Palin to speak from memory. None of us noticed, so poised was her delivery. This woman was under tremendous pressure to deliver after being villified day after day, report after report. She surpassed all hopes and expectations.
The sound-bites from Palin's speech are still reverberating. "Conventional wisdom," that is, the media elites, remind us that the vice presidential candidate makes no difference to the outcome of the election. Not this year, not with this candidate. It just makes Palin's nomination historic in yet another respect.
Leaving the convention after her speech, delegates kept repeating their favorite zingers. Like one Texas delegate, who may have been an original Suffragette. This lady climbed on the bus and announced to the crowd, "I'm visualizing a pit bull with lip stick!"
There were as many good lines as passengers, and no consensus on which was best. What was undisputed, however, was that it had been a historic speech, not just because of Palin's gender, but because she had breathed life into the conservative movement. This speech was simply too good to be confined to just one election cycle.
Throughout the speech, I was reminded of Ronald Reagan. Her humor, her willingness to take on her critics directly, her ability to not just roll with the punches she'd endured but to give as good as she got -- it was all classic Reagan. This woman is a great communicator, and as with Reagan, cut through the media and spoke directly to the American people. Like Reagan, the media have mocked her for being unqualified, and make clear that they think she's not very smart. What a gift to the GOP.
When Palin confronted the media on their treatment of her, the crowd started chanting "NBC" and pointed up to that network's anchor booth. Somewhere in Rockefeller Center, heads rolled.
With every zinger, people around me yelled things like "Out of the park!" and "That's gotta hurt!" Palin stood up for herself and her family, and made us laugh at the same time. She created a humor gap between the two tickets that underscores Obama's pretentiousness and McCain's and Palin's genuineness. (Biden is unintentionally funny.)
At the speech's conclusion, when Palin's entire family -- including her future son-in-law, and Baby Trig -- took the stage, the mood changed. The applause continued to thunder, but people teared up. No amount of hate speech or media mockery could strip this family of its dignity, fortified by love and faith. Anyone who thinks this mother has put career before family has only to see her hold her baby.
Then McCain showed up. To be sure, the Convention crowd was pleased to see the presidential nominee and applauded his intuition and boldness in choosing Palin. McCain has been criticized for not saying more when he joined the Palins on stage. Here's what he did do. He spoke to each member of the family, and took extra time with the expectant couple. We could not hear the words exchanged but the body language spoke volumes: McCain wanted to make sure that they were holding up all right despite ridicule that no person --let alone a 17-year old -- should have to endure.
Palin's speech was fabulous. In the end, however, the images counted more. McCain's solicitousness with this couple honored their decision to choose life for their baby. Palin's refusal to marginalize her baby, bringing him on the stage to share the moment with the rest of the family, reaffirmed the dignity of all human beings and the sacredness of life. It was breathtaking; lives will be saved as a result. That's a change for the better.
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