Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin brought her rhetorical dogs over the finish line of the political Iditarod tonight, delivering a winner of an acceptance speech, despite whatever obstacles of doubt existed before tonight.
"It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee (Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.) because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves," she said, setting the stage for a "how-dare-you-you-media-snobs" address. "With their usual certitude, they told us that all was lost — there was no hope for this candidate who said that he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. But the pollsters and pundits overlooked just one thing when they wrote him off. They overlooked the caliber of the man himself — the determination, resolve, and sheer guts of Sen. John McCain. The voters knew better."
Palin talked movingly — and in a way, many women, and men, can certainly identify with — about her family. "Our son Track is 19," she said. "And one week from tomorrow — September 11th — he’ll deploy to Iraq with the Army infantry in the service of his country. My nephew Kasey also enlisted, and serves on a carrier in the Persian Gulf."
The speech, well crafted and largely written by former Bush White House speechwriter Matt Scully, was effective.
"I was mayor of my hometown," she said. "And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves."
"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities," she said in a clear jab at Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., "I might add that, in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening. We tend to prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.
"I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion — I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people."
Palin was very much tonight the local-mom-made-good, the take-charge woman underestimated by the clueless local boys in their last mistake before losing power.
"I came to office promising major ethics reform, to end the culture of self-dealing," she said. "And today, that ethics reform is the law. While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor’s office that I didn’t believe our citizens should have to pay for. That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay. I love to drive myself to work. And I thought we could muddle through without the governor’s personal chef — although I’ve got to admit that sometimes my kids sure miss her."
Not everything she said was as it seems. She said she told Congress "thanks, but no thanks" on the Bridge to Nowhere, but the truth is a little more cloudy.
She was an attack dog tonight. "We’ve all heard his dramatic speeches before devoted followers," she said of Obama. "And there is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs, but not a single major law or reform — not even in the state Senate. This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word ‘victory’ except when he’s talking about his own campaign.
"But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed … when the roar of the crowd fades away … when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot — when that happens, what exactly is our opponent’s plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger … take more of your money … And to give you more orders from Washington … and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world."
Palin said that, "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change. They’re the ones whose names appear on laws and landmark reforms, not just on buttons and banners, or on self-designed presidential seals."