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Sarah Palin was spectacular at CPAC. I don't think I would put her speech there on par with the one she delivered at the Republican Convention back in 2008, but it was a great one - and the way it was received reflected that reality. First of all, Palin has a firm grasp on the small things that only savvy leaders (think Bill Clinton, except the polar opposite ideologically) grasp:
Symbolically clad in a bold-red blouse (and not in a pale, pink pastel color, which symbolizes the Republican establishment of which she is not a part)
Don't overlook something this simple. Sending a message of powerful ideas and strengthened convictions with the way you dress is a perfect example of someone who has a political sense that most others simply lack. When you add that to the kind of powerful oratory she delivered, you've got yourself something. And that's what I have felt about Palin for the longest time: she's something special, something unique and something conservatives need to embrace.
There's a number of reasons why, as Tony Lee's report of Palin's speech pointed out at Human Events:
[O]n a day when Palin reportedly generated more enthusiasm than every presidential candidate combined who spoke at CPAC and owned the room and conference, one could not wonder how many who were listening to the speech were coming to the realization that Palin should be the GOP nominee for president much in the same way the majority in attendance at Kemper Arena in Kansas City in 1976 at the Republican National Convention, in their hearts, knew that Ronald Reagan -- and not Gerald Ford -- was the rightful standard-bearer of bold conservatism.
Exhibit A: Palin indicted Obama for his "Winning the Future" plan she dubbed "his WTF plan" and his "bankrupt green energy plan," and said, regarding the debt: "Cut it, gut it, get rid of it."
Exhibit B: She fiercely defended life: "We believe every child is created equal with right to life," Palin passionately said. "I ask you to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves . if not us, then who?"
Exhibit C: Palin said she did not want Obama's economy that lasts and, instead, wanted an end to his administration and false promises.
"He can keep his change," Palin said. "We'll keep our God, our guns, our Constitution."
Exhibit D: Palin's fiercest words were against the crony capitalistic system of Washington that has turned all Americans off.
Palin said this is not the Washington of our founding fathers and it is "something our forefathers never envisioned." She said the "permanent political class is content," and they exempt themselves and play by a different set of rules.
She said the "money-making opportunities" for those in D.C. are endless and they "spread their wealth" to their friends and donors. Palin has repeatedly rebuked and attacked this culture of "crony capitalism."
"This isn't the capitalism of free men and free markets," Palin said. "It's the capitalism of connections. . This is the capitalism of Barack Obama of the permanent political class."
She called Washington a "playground of the government rich" where "millionaires are minted overnight" even though nothing is produced except favors to friends and cronies.
"Our permanent political class is content, they are immune to the realities that the rest of us face; they exempt themselves, they play by their different set of rules," Palin said, before adding politicians are elected by promising more programs and "new freebies and new favors" and government grows to accommodate their promises.
"It never shrinks," Palin said, in reference to the ever-growing government that "crowds out equal opportunity" and "extinguishes the independent, pioneering American spirit."
She said politicians run by indicting Washington as a "cesspool" but then, once they arrive in Washington, decide it is like a hot tub.
"Well America, it is time we drain the jacuzzi and we throw the bums out with the bath water," Palin said.
Look, I know everybody in the formative days of this primary seemed to be saying things like, "I just don't know that Palin can get the job done. She's got too much baggage." My response then, and now is, "Says who?" The mainstream media? The left? If we conservatives are in the business of letting the left tell us who has too much baggage to run on our ticket, then we have no hope. By the way, is Palin's baggage worse than that carried by Santorum, or Newt or Mitt or Ron Paul? Obviously not. Everybody has baggage when it's defined by their political opponents.
What the Republican Party desperately needs is someone who doesn't let others define them, because they don't worry about such things. They need someone who embodies conservatism, can communicate it in a plain spoken way, and is believable because they have lived those values. Few in the Party can claim that mantle like Sarah Palin. After 3 years of this failed administration the nonsense about Palin being too dumb is a joke. If what we've seen is brilliance, moving in the opposite direction is the smartest thing we could do.
I don't know that any one of them would admit it, but I bet that even some of the blueblood Republicans who honestly and earnestly do want to see the defeat of Barack Obama in 2012 were a little wistful as they watched Palin dominate the stage at CPAC in a way that no other conservative has done in a long time.