As I left the Xcel Center one month ago today after hearding Sarah Palin speak to the Republican National Convention, I texted Bruce my one-word summation of her speech, “Reaganesque.” The more I watch clips of her debate last night, the more convinced I become of my initial assessment of my party’s vice presidential nominee.
She has a lot in common with the greatest Republican president of the last century.
Michael Barone wrote that the debate “spotlighted her winning personality. She showed the same smiling confidence that she did in her acceptance speech September 3.” Ronald Reagan’s public appearances spotlighted his winning personality, his smiling confidence, not only in himself, but also in the American people. And his optimism.
Last night, just as she did in St. Paul, Sarah Palin showed that very same optimism and the Gipper’s faith in the American people.Â As Rich Lowry put it, “She talked about regular middle-class people with the credibility of having lived that life every day.” Perhaps because of the kind of movies Hollywood made when Reagan was working as an actor, he always remembered his middle-class roots and could relate to the people with whom he grew up.
Importantly, like the Gipper, Sarah Palin, in the words of Glenn Reynolds, “does better without a big-media filter between her and the audience.” She spoke to us, not at us. Maybe she lost ground on debater’s points for not always answering some of the questions Gwen Ifill posed, but that didn’t seem to matter much to citizens watching the debate. They wanted to know that she understood their concerns.
It was classy of her to acknowledge as much, “And I may not answer the questions the way* that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.” Sounds a lot like Ronald Reagan, more concerned with the American people than the Washington talking heads.
Indeed, she is anything but a Washington insider. Back in 1980, the talking heads of the day bemoaned the Gipper’s election because he hadn’t worked in the nation’s capital. No wonder so many of them are so critical of Sarah Palin. She’s not a part of their club. As blog-reader American Elephant put it in commenting on my post-debate analysis, “Palin in particular is utterly devoid of everything Americans hate about Washington politics.”
Finally, in her closing statement, she both quoted Ronald Reagan and echoed him, reminding of the gift of freedom and the fight we must wage to keep it. (Please click on “more” below to read that statement for yourself.)
Just as the Gipper made me proud to be a Republican so too does Sarah Palin. And proud to be an American.
Sarah Palin’s closing remarks:
I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media kind of telling viewers what they’ve just heard. I’d rather be able to just speak to the American people like we just did.
And it’s so important that the American people know of the choices that they have on November 4th.
I want to assure you that John McCain and I, we’re going to fight for America. We’re going to fight for the middle-class, average, everyday American family like mine.
I’ve been there. I know what the hurts are. I know what the challenges are. And, thank God, I know what the joys are, too, of living in America. We are so blessed. And I’ve always been proud to be an American. And so has John McCain.
We have to fight for our freedoms, also, economic and our national security freedoms.
It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.
We will fight for it, and there is only one man in this race who has really ever fought for you, and that’s Sen. John McCain.
*Apparently, CNN and the New York Times left those two words, “the way” out of their respective transcripts.