The inside-the-beltway pundit Peggy Noonan was caught after an appearance on MSNBC by a live mic saying, "It's over."
Noonan agrees with the conventional wisdom that Sarah Palin was such a disastrous choice that the election is over.
The election is over, but not in the way Noonan thinks. After Palin's electrifying speech tonight, I don't see how Obama/Biden can win. It's over.
Sarah Palin gave what I think is the greatest speech by a Republican since Ronald Reagan. (That's not saying too much, considering that neither Bush president was articulate.) She was poised and powerful, and at the same time feminine and funny.
The reception at the beginning was intense, and I think it was as much a reaction to the outrageous character assassination she has undergone in the last few days from the media as it was a reaction to Sarah Palin. She has been subjected to injustice; the applause for her when she walked onstage was an act of justice, a show of moral support to one who has been subject to smears.
She praised small government and strong defense. In fact the entire night was a much better message than the first night's message of service. Tonight the placards read "Prosperity," an old-fashioned idea in this age when both parties promise greater servitude and sacrifice. (Did they check with the Environmental Protection Agency to make sure it's all right to advocate humans making their lives better? Is that still legal in America?) Tonight it was almost as if the GOP sensed it better get back to its basic principles of small government and strong defense to reassure the base.
All the speeches were good. In fact, the Republicans almost got me. There were moments when I thought I'd join Rob Tracinski and support McCain (as Tracinski certainly will do, if he has not yet).
One of the highlights of the night was Rudy Giuliani actually mentioning Islamic terrorists. As he noted, the Democrats were terrified to speak these words.
All the attacks on Obama were spot on and entirely fair. Obama has said he will be attacked by Republicans because he doesn't look like the presidents on our currency. He wishes! He was attacked tonight on things he has said, his flip-flops and his thin record.
Obama's response to the speech could not have been weaker:
“The speech that Governor Palin gave was well delivered, but it was written by George Bush’s speechwriter and sounds exactly like the same divisive, partisan attacks we’ve heard from George Bush for the last eight years. If Governor Palin and John McCain want to define ‘change’ as voting with George Bush 90% of the time, that’s their choice, but we don’t think the American people are ready to take a 10% chance on change,” said Bill Burton, Obama Campaign Spokesman.
Huh? Are you kidding me? First, it sounded nothing like a Bush speech. Second, Bush has never been divisive or partisan, but has sought to compromise with Democrats. This response is out of touch with reality. It's the kind of nonsense that liberals tell one another at Daily Kos or Democratic Underground. If Obama wants to communicate with the two thirds of America that are not part of the Democrat base, he needs to get out of the liberal cocoon.
Alas, the tragic contradictions in the Republican Party bring me back to Earth. Watch this speech Palin gave in an Assembly of God church, and you'll see that the woman has some insane mystical ideas. She thinks the war in Iraq is a task from God (our enemies would agree with her). Worse, she believes, if she agrees with her pastor, that Alaska will be a "refuge state" in the Last Days. Doubtless these people will see her ascendance to the national ticket as the will of God. 40 years ago we would have associated such ideas with some inbred freak show in the south, complete with snakes and talking in tongues; today it's mainstream America, good enough for the Governor of Alaska.
Another thing that bothers me about those clips of her in church is the way she talks. She says, "this is so cool," "freaks me out," "awesome," and so on. Yes, I will sound like an elitist here, but I like our political leaders to sound more intelligent than Britney Spears. This furthers my impression that Palin is very much a "common man," with no understanding of economics, political theory or philosophy. In a way that is good -- she is not infected with the Marxist or New Leftist ideas that animate Obama; but in a way her ignorance is a disaster. Ignorance of Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises will lead to politics as usual, regardless of her mission as a reformer.
Palin said in her speech that she would challenge the status quo, but she can't do it. She will fail because she has no intellectual ammunition. She will do exactly as much as Al Gore did "reinventing government." She'll be on the lookout for corruption -- all reformers are against corruption -- but she won't dismantle the Department of Energy. She won't privatize Social Security. She won't repeal a single damned law. As an advocate for "special needs babies," she will likely increase the nanny state and spend more of the taxpayers' dollars.
Worse, Palin lumps in "taking on" the establishment and the "old boys network" with oil companies. She does not understand that there is a categorical difference between attacking politicians and attacking big business. And the more she agrees with her religion's ethics of altruism, the more she will attack "greedy corporations."
Both Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, politicians in their 40's, are emblematic of the kind of leaders America now produces. The Republican is a Christian go getter who talks like the girl next door and the Democrat is a man of mixed race who considers himself a "blank screen" to reflect back to people what they want to see.
Get used to them. They're the future.