[FoRK] At the Tea Party

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Sun Mar 21 15:34:10 PDT 2010


Good stuff about scary stuff.

> I went to Nashville not as an accredited reporter but as a recently 
> joined member of Tea Party Nation. (I had my own quarrels with big 
> government, especially on the matter of mass surveillance, warrantless 
> wiretapping, and the rest, and I counted on my libertarian streak to 
> give me sufficient common ground with my fellow tea partiers.)

> Few of us would see much change from the $1,500–$2,000 we'd spent on 
> travel to Nashville, the $558.95 convention fee with service charge, a 
> room at the hotel, and a couple of drinks at the hotel bars, where a 
> glass of the cheapest wine or whisky cost $12. Seen as a group, we 
> were, I thought, a shade too prosperous, too amiably chatty and 
> mild-mannered, to pass as the voice of the enraged grassroots.

> Then conversation swerved on to the subject of Obama, "the idiot," 
> "missing a few marbles up here," "that nitwit." (It's curious how the 
> Tea Party view of the President exactly mirrors the way the left talks 
> about Palin: both are self-evidently stupid.) Obama was an unknown 
> quantity when he was elected. He had no record, no experience; he was 
> an empty suit about whom we knew nothing.
>
> "Well," said the alpha male, producing his ace of trumps, "we knew he 
> was black."
>

> I heard—and joined in—some grumbling about the religiosity of the 
> event. "It's Tea Party Nation," a woman said. "They're a very 
> religious group. You notice how they won't serve alcohol at dinner?" 
> Another told me that several people had left a "breakout session" 
> she'd attended, apparently because they'd taken offense at the copious 
> prayers. "It's a regional thing. This is the Bible belt. You don't see 
> this at Tea Party groups in the Southwest."
>
> This wasn't a trivial issue. It's one thing for pro-life evangelicals 
> and secular libertarians to march shoulder to shoulder behind banners 
> saying "Kill the Bill!" and "Oust the Marxist Usurper!" or displaying 
> a portrait of Obama rouged up and kohled to look like Heath Ledger's 
> Joker in the Batman movie /Dark Knight/. It's quite another to coop up 
> the same people for three days in a hotel, where they must talk to 
> each other through breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the march on D.C., 
> there were T-shirts proclaiming "I am John Galt" and "Atlas Has 
> Shrugged" alongside others that said "Obama Spends—Jesus Saves" or had 
> the legend "Yes, He Did" beneath a picture of Christ on the cross. At 
> Opryland, devout, abstemious Christians were breaking bread with 
> followers of Ayn Rand's gospel of unbridled and atheistic 
> self-interest. The convention, designed to unite the Tea Party 
> movement, was helping to expose fundamental differences of belief and 
> mindset between people who, before Nashville, had appeared as 
> interchangeable members of a single angry crowd.
>

> For the Saturday night banquet and Palin's speech, I was assigned a 
> seat beside the woman who told me about people quitting a meeting 
> because of the prayers. Had we been strangers on a plane together, we 
> would have had nothing politically in common (she liked to refer to 
> Obama as "the idiot"), but here we were confidential allies, in 
> harmonious agreement about the birthers, the Marxist conspiracy, the 
> demonization of immigrants, and the churchiness of the convention.^[2] 
> <#fn2> 

> As we sat down to our steak-and-jumbo-shrimp dinner, my neighbor said, 
> sotto voce, for my ears only, "You know, I phoned my husband last 
> night. I told him that being here has made me realize that I am 
> a/liberal/ conservative."

sdw

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23723
> Volume 57, Number 5 · March 25, 2010
> At the Tea Party
>
> By Jonathan Raban
>
> (Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
> People who watched the Tea Party Convention in Nashville on television 
> in early February saw and heard an angry crowd, unanimous in its 
> acclaim for every speaker. Standing ovation followed standing ovation, 
> the fiery crackle of applause was nearly continuous, and so were the 
> whistles, whoops, and yells, the Yeahs!, Rights!, and cries of "USA! 
> USA!" Inside the Tennessee Ballroom of the Opryland Hotel in 
> Nashville, it was rather different: what struck me was how many 
> remained seated through the ovations, how many failed to clap, how 
> many muttered quietly into the ears of their neighbors while others 
> around them rose to their feet and hollered.
>
> It wasn't until the last night of the event, when Sarah Palin came on 
> stage, that the Tea Party movement, a loose congeries of unlike minds, 
> found unity in its contempt for Barack Obama, its loathing of the 
> growing deficit as "generational theft," its demands for "fiscal 
> responsibility," lower taxes, smaller government, states' rights, and 
> a vastly more aggressive national security policy. "Run, Sarah, Run!" 
> everyone chanted, though if Palin could have seen inside the heads of 
> the 1,100 people at the banquet, she might have felt a pang of 
> disquiet at the factional and heterogeneous character of the army 
> whose love and loyalty she currently inspires.
>
>
> I went to Nashville not as an accredited reporter but as a recently 
> joined member of Tea Party Nation. (I had my own quarrels with big 
> government, especially on the matter of mass surveillance, warrantless 
> wiretapping, and the rest, and I counted on my libertarian streak to 
> give me sufficient common ground with my fellow tea partiers.) When I 
> presented my Washington State driver's license at the registration 
> desk, the volunteer said, "Thank you for coming all this way to help 
> save our country," then, looking at the license more closely, 
> "Seattle—you got a lot of liberals there." I accepted his condolences.
>
> As we milled around in the convention center lobby, we might easily 
> have been mistaken for passengers on a cruise ship. We belonged to a 
> similar demographic: most—though by no means all—of us had qualified 
> for membership of AARP a good while ago; 99.5 percent of us were 
> white; in general, smart leisurewear was our preferred style of dress. 
> (The TV cameras made far too much of the handful of exhibitionists in 
> powdered white pigtail wigs and tricorn hats, and of the peculiar, 
> bug-eyed gentleman from Georgia, who was sometimes costumed as an 
> eighteenth-century American revolutionary, sometimes as a kilted 
> Highland chieftain, his copper tea kettle lashed to both outfits, and 
> spoke to his many interviewers in a hokey and ponderous English 
> accent.) Few of us would see much change from the $1,500–$2,000 we'd 
> spent on travel to Nashville, the $558.95 convention fee with service 
> charge, a room at the hotel, and a couple of drinks at the hotel bars, 
> where a glass of the cheapest wine or whisky cost $12. Seen as a 
> group, we were, I thought, a shade too prosperous, too amiably chatty 
> and mild-mannered, to pass as the voice of the enraged grassroots.
>
> I asked one woman whether she'd been part of "9/12," as tea partiers 
> call the great taxpayer march on Washington, D.C., last September. No, 
> she'd missed it, she said, and "felt really guilty" about doing so, 
> but she and her husband had been on vacation.
>
> "Where did you go?"
>
> "We spent a week in Amalfi, then we toured Tuscany, then we spent a 
> week in Rome."
>
> Another woman, hearing my accent, told me about her and her partner's 
> second home in Torquay, England, which they visited three times a year 
> from their base in Atlanta, and about their thirty-five-foot 
> powerboat, in which they'd crossed the Channel to Le Havre and cruised 
> down the French canals to Marseilles.
>
> ost of us were political novices. When we were asked how many 
> attendees had never been involved in politics before joining the Tea 
> Party movement, roughly four out of every five people raised their 
> hands. On the outside balcony where the smokers gathered, I was joined 
> at a table by an intense, wiry, close-cropped, redheaded woman from 
> southern Virginia who dated her conversion to hearing Sarah Palin for 
> the first time.
>
> "She was me! She's so down-to-earth! If Sarah was sitting here with us 
> now, she'd be just a normal person like you and me. You could say 
> anything to her. She's not like a politician—she's real. And Sarah 
> always keeps her word. If Sarah promises something, you know she'll do 
> it. She's just am az ing."
>
> Before Sarah, the woman said, her interest in politics had been 
> limited to voting in general elections. Her one big involvement was 
> with her church. Now she was traveling around the country on behalf of 
> Team Sarah and Conservative Moms for America, a fundamentalist group 
> whose "Conservative Moms Pledge" begins with a quote from the first 
> epistle of Saint Peter:
>
> Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some 
> do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct 
> of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
> In the last year, she'd marched on 9/12, gone to CPAC—the Conservative 
> Political Action Conference—and attended a string of acronymic events, 
> which she recited to me. Soon she'd be off to New Orleans for the 
> Southern Republican Leadership Conference.
>
> Lighting her second cigarette in ten minutes, she talked about missing 
> her family on these political jaunts. After their own children were 
> grown, she and her husband had adopted two infant daughters, now aged 
> six and nine. The girls were the light of their sixty-ish lives. One 
> was autistic, the other severely developmentally disabled: her birth 
> mother was an "alcoholic" and a "drug addict," and the baby had 
> suffered a series of strokes in the delivery room, where her heart had 
> twice stopped beating.
>
> "The hospital said they doubted if she was salvageable. Salvageable! 
> Imagine talking about a human life as 'salvageable'! You see why I 
> love Sarah? We have so much in common." She rattled on about her 
> girls' accomplishments—how nearly normal they were, how happy, how 
> responsive to the warm climate of affection in which they now lived. 
> "Here, I'll show you...." She found her cell phone in her bag and 
> treated me to a slide show of family photos: her husband, a heavily 
> built man in plaid shirt and jeans, playing with their daughters in a 
> well-kept backyard. She hadn't bothered to mention that both girls 
> were black.
>
> Her crowded freshman year in politics made her a veteran by comparison 
> with most people I met, whose experience was limited to membership of 
> a local Tea Party group and attendance at rallies, in which everyone 
> seemed to have found a mirror of his or her own temperament and 
> character. A dour man from Hilton Head, South Carolina, said of the 
> 9/12 march, "You didn't see one person—not one!—with an adult 
> beverage, and when we left the Mall there wasn't a single cigarette 
> butt on the ground." He eyed me, no doubt scenting these vices on my 
> own clothes and breath. "And they call us a bunch of radicals."
>
> Although much of the convention was designed to stoke our wrath at the 
> iniquities of the Obama administration, its less reported half was 
> meant to teach us how to take our first baby steps in the new world of 
> politics. One session I attended, on "How to Organize a Tea Party 
> Group," nicely reflected both the innocence and the age of so many of 
> the conventioneers. The speaker, Lori Christenson, was a retired 
> corporate trainer from Evergreen, Colorado, a small, wealthy, lakeside 
> town in the foothills of the Rockies, thirty miles west of Denver. Her 
> PowerPoint presentation was a handy vade mecum of hints and tips for 
> absolute beginners. How to open an account at Meetup.com. How to name 
> your group. Why alliterative phrases like "Tea Party Tuesdays" or "Tea 
> Party Thursdays" work better than other days of the week, because they 
> are more easily remembered by older people. Why school gyms are to be 
> avoided as meeting places (the elderly will have difficulty climbing 
> the risers). Ms. Christenson advised against using churches because 
> too many people associated the movement with the Christian right; she 
> suggested booking a room at the local public library as a more neutral 
> territory. If you set up a card table outside a grocery store to 
> recruit new members, you must remember to call yourself a "community 
> group," not a political one. Everybody was nodding and taking notes.
>
> She took us through the ins and outs of 501(c)3s and 527s, and 
> for-profits versus nonprofits. She told us how to make fliers and hide 
> them inside "conservative" library books, like those of Glenn Beck, 
> and put them on the windshields of cars with old McCain-Palin bumper 
> stickers. With a note of plaintiveness that I heard often at the 
> convention, she said, "We've got to work on the youth."
>
> At question time, someone stood up to say, "We did Obama Bingo at the 
> State of the Union address—did you guys do that?" Good idea, said Ms. 
> Christenson. Someone else suggested entering floats in town parades, 
> so that members could sing patriotic songs from them. It was a restful 
> hour, like being back in nursery school.
>
> e said prayers, recited the Pledge of Allegiance (with the words 
> "under God" pronounced as if they were underlined and in bold type), 
> and clapped in time with the beat of country music. Lisa Mei Norton, a 
> former Air Force senior master sergeant, sang, "The shining light, on 
> the right, the left just doesn't get,/Sar—ah Palin for change you 
> won't regret...." It would have taken a finely calibrated stopwatch to 
> measure how very rapidly such folksy piety and patriotism could swivel 
> into crude nativism, conspiracy theory, and xenophobia—and to measure, 
> too, the dawning discomfort at this switch of tone registered by a 
> sizable part of the audience.
>
> The first night's speaker, Tom Tancredo, ex-congressman from Colorado 
> and no-hope presidential candidate in 2008, gave a taste of what was 
> to come as he warmed up the audience with a show of self-deprecating, 
> clownish good humor. He told stories—some of them extremely tall, as 
> when he described visiting a new high school in the richest Denver 
> suburb, where the students all drove new BMWs and, on Monday mornings, 
> were fresh from skiing weekends in Vail. He had, he said, picked up 
> their textbook on American history, whose first sentence was—"and this 
> is exactly what it said"—Columbus came to America and ruined Paradise. 
> Shaking his head, he repeated the sentence, which I took to be a 
> fantastic, garbled invention, loosely inspired by Howard Zinn's A 
> People's History of the United States. But we were still in the realm 
> of good, relatively clean, political fun.
>
> The drollery vanished as he climbed aboard his old anti-immigration 
> hobby horse. "The revolution has come. It was led by the cult of 
> multiculturalism, aided by leftist liberals all over, who don't have 
> the same ideas about America as we do." Since George H.W. Bush's 
> administration, RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) had been conspiring 
> with Democrats to boil us like frogs in the "cauldron of the nanny 
> state." "Then something really odd happened," Tancredo said, "mostly 
> because, I think, we do not have a civics literacy test before people 
> can vote in this country. People who could not spell the word 'vote,' 
> or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White 
> House. His name is Barack Hussein Obama."
>
> Though a ripple of cheers and applause spread through the ballroom, I 
> was taking my cue from a middle-aged couple sitting immediately in 
> front of me. When they clapped, I clapped. When they rose to their 
> feet, I did too. Now they exchanged a hard-to-read glance and their 
> hands stayed in their laps.
>
> My guess was that few in the room were offended by the association of 
> the "literacy test" with the Jim Crow laws, though some may have been. 
> But everyone I'd met so far was in a position to know immigrants, 
> legal and otherwise; they employed them in their houses and 
> businesses, to look after their children and work on their yards. The 
> idea that Maria and Luis, or Tatyana and Dmitri, had somehow subverted 
> the political system to bring about Obama's election struck them as 
> insulting and absurd.
>
> Something very similar happened the next night, when Joseph Farah, the 
> author and impresario of the right-wing news site WorldNetDaily, took 
> to the stage. Farah, self-consciously handsome, with his swept-back 
> gray hair and bootblack chevron mustache, spoke in that tone of 
> patient, inexorable, commonsensical logic that seems equally 
> distributed between long-tenured professors and certified lunatics. He 
> took us on a quasi-scholarly tour of the first chapter of Saint 
> Matthew's gospel, where Christ's genealogy is traced from the 
> patriarch, Abraham, down through many generations to "Jacob the father 
> of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called 
> Christ," then invited us to compare Jesus' unassailable ancestry with 
> Obama's dubious family tree. "I have a dream," Farah said. "And my 
> dream is that if Barack Obama even seeks reelection as president in 
> 2012, he won't be able to go to any city, any town, any hamlet in 
> America without seeing signs that ask, 'Where's the Birth 
> Certificate?'" Again, I saw as many glum and unresponsive faces in the 
> crowd as people standing up to cheer.
>
> Having established Obama as a Ken-yan imposter, Farah went on to 
> explain how his administration is using 1960s Marxist theory to bring 
> about the destruction of the "American free-enterprise system." The 
> President and his red henchmen are employing the "Cloward-Piven 
> strategy"[1] —"turning make-believe crises into real crises" to 
> paralyze capitalism, as, for instance, when they manufactured crises 
> and bailouts, like those of the banks, AIG, and the auto industry. 
> Farah seemed untroubled by the implication that, since these crises 
> and bailouts dated back to September 2008 and before, George W. Bush 
> must have been in on the plot too. Proof of his argument, Farah said, 
> had come when Rahm Emanuel inadvertently let drop the secret of this 
> master plan by saying, "You never want a serious crisis to go to 
> waste." This was Cloward-Piven strategy, succinctly stated. "It is the 
> only paradigm that makes any sense," Farah told us.
>
> I was off to the smokers' ghetto after Farah's speech, so missed the 
> confrontation in the lobby between him and Andrew Breitbart of 
> Breitbart.com, another prominent and forceful speaker at the 
> convention. But David Weigel of The Washington Independent, who was 
> live-blogging from Nashville, was himself caught up in the row, and 
> captured it on audiotape. Breitbart attacked Farah for raising the 
> "birther issue" because it was "divisive." Here's a snatch of Weigel's 
> transcription, with Farah speaking first and Breitbart second:
>
> "It is a winning issue!"
> "It's not a winning issue."
> "It is! It becomes even more of a winning issue when the press 
> abrogates its responsibility—"
> "You don't recognize it as a fundamentally controversial issue that 
> forces a unified group of people to have to break into different 
> parts? It is a schism of the highest order."
> Out with the smokers on the freezing balcony, I was feeling 
> sufficiently at home with my fellow attendees to voice, as mildly as I 
> could, my own impatience with the birther stuff and the Cloward-Piven 
> strategy. I wasn't surprised to find people agreeing with me. 
> "Stupid," a woman said. "My first thought was, 'This guy's a liberal 
> plant.' I thought we came here to talk about taxes and government 
> spending and national defense."
>
> he rhetorical extravagance of Tancredo, Farah, and other speakers was 
> in tune with the extravagance of our surroundings. The convention had 
> begun in discord and controversy, with the last-minute withdrawals of 
> two star performers, the Republican congresswomen Michele Bachmann and 
> Marsha Blackburn, and sniping from rival Tea Party groups who accused 
> Tea Party Nation and its proprietors of trying to hijack the movement 
> for personal profit. Much of the criticism was directed at the cost of 
> the event and the choice of the gigantic Opryland resort hotel as a venue.
>
> The scenic route from my hotel room to the convention center led 
> through nine acres of jasmine-scented tropical rain forest, contained 
> by interlocking atriums that resembled London's 1851 Crystal Palace. 
> Bridges and winding pathways ran past waterfalls and fountains through 
> a dense jungle of banana trees, palms, hibiscus, bougainvillea, 
> cannas, ferns, vines, and orchids. "Mississippi flatboats" took 
> passengers on circuits of the shallow canal that looped around Delta 
> Island, and on my walk, I'd pass Epcot-style recreations of old French 
> New Orleans; an antebellum planter's mansion; a bit of Italy; a quaint 
> village street, possibly English; and a Dublin pub. Such a 
> concentrated dose of surreality, taken before breakfast, helped to 
> prepare one for life in the alternative world that was on offer in the 
> ballroom.
>
> Obama's election was "our Pearl Harbor." We were now living in "the 
> Third Reich": the first two Reichs were FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great 
> Society. Liberal environmentalists were leading us into "socialist 
> totalitarianism disguised as polar bears." Luxuriant and overreaching 
> metaphors bloomed like the tropical foliage just outside. I suspected 
> that few of the cheering tea partiers took them very seriously. They 
> were, rather, the floor show, a contrived entertainment, meant to add 
> spice and dazzle to proceedings that would otherwise have been tedious 
> in their emphasis on modest, neighborhood politics. The same speaker 
> who roused us with talk of Pearl Harbor and the Third Reich later told 
> us to run for our local school board, and be careful to avoid 
> "divisive social issues."
>
> Only once did I find myself with a group of people from whose company 
> I was glad to escape. At dinner on Friday, our eight-person table was 
> talking—somewhat facetiously—about emigration. "We may have to leave 
> this country sooner than we thought," a woman said, and laughed. 
> Australia was mooted as a possible destination. "Well, you could have 
> gone to Australia once," said a beefy man in his sixties, with coiffed 
> silver hair and matching beard, the alpha male of the table; "but now 
> they've got another liberal in charge—even in Australia."
>
> The woman's husband shook his head, and said, "It may still come to 
> shooting," the tone in which he made the remark delicately balanced 
> between eagerness and regret.
>
> Then conversation swerved on to the subject of Obama, "the idiot," 
> "missing a few marbles up here," "that nitwit." (It's curious how the 
> Tea Party view of the President exactly mirrors the way the left talks 
> about Palin: both are self-evidently stupid.) Obama was an unknown 
> quantity when he was elected. He had no record, no experience; he was 
> an empty suit about whom we knew nothing.
>
> "Well," said the alpha male, producing his ace of trumps, "we knew he 
> was black."
>
> heard—and joined in—some grumbling about the religiosity of the event. 
> "It's Tea Party Nation," a woman said. "They're a very religious 
> group. You notice how they won't serve alcohol at dinner?" Another 
> told me that several people had left a "breakout session" she'd 
> attended, apparently because they'd taken offense at the copious 
> prayers. "It's a regional thing. This is the Bible belt. You don't see 
> this at Tea Party groups in the Southwest."
>
> This wasn't a trivial issue. It's one thing for pro-life evangelicals 
> and secular libertarians to march shoulder to shoulder behind banners 
> saying "Kill the Bill!" and "Oust the Marxist Usurper!" or displaying 
> a portrait of Obama rouged up and kohled to look like Heath Ledger's 
> Joker in the Batman movie Dark Knight. It's quite another to coop up 
> the same people for three days in a hotel, where they must talk to 
> each other through breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the march on D.C., 
> there were T-shirts proclaiming "I am John Galt" and "Atlas Has 
> Shrugged" alongside others that said "Obama Spends—Jesus Saves" or had 
> the legend "Yes, He Did" beneath a picture of Christ on the cross. At 
> Opryland, devout, abstemious Christians were breaking bread with 
> followers of Ayn Rand's gospel of unbridled and atheistic 
> self-interest. The convention, designed to unite the Tea Party 
> movement, was helping to expose fundamental differences of belief and 
> mindset between people who, before Nashville, had appeared as 
> interchangeable members of a single angry crowd.
>
> For the Saturday night banquet and Palin's speech, I was assigned a 
> seat beside the woman who told me about people quitting a meeting 
> because of the prayers. Had we been strangers on a plane together, we 
> would have had nothing politically in common (she liked to refer to 
> Obama as "the idiot"), but here we were confidential allies, in 
> harmonious agreement about the birthers, the Marxist conspiracy, the 
> demonization of immigrants, and the churchiness of the convention.[2]
>
> That evening, our prayer was led by Laurie Cardoza-Moore, the founder 
> and president of a Christian Zionist organization called Proclaiming 
> Justice to the Nations. We were asked to join hands with our neighbors 
> while Moore delivered a long, impassioned appeal to God, imploring Him 
> to compel the United States to show unwavering loyalty and devotion to 
> the State of Israel. I felt an increasingly steady pressure on my 
> right hand from the woman holding it, as she sang out her "A-mens!"; 
> but my left hand, lightly held by my new partner in skepticism, 
> registered a quick double-blip from her forefinger and thumb that 
> unambiguously said, "Uh-oh."
>
> As we sat down to our steak-and-jumbo-shrimp dinner, my neighbor said, 
> sotto voce, for my ears only, "You know, I phoned my husband last 
> night. I told him that being here has made me realize that I am a 
> liberal conservative."
>
> hatever cracks and fissures had begun to open beneath our feet during 
> the convention were instantly healed by Palin's appearance on the 
> platform. A great wave of adoration met the small, black-suited woman, 
> as she walked to the microphone with a sheaf of papers. The entire 
> ballroom was willing Sarah to transport us to a state of delirium with 
> whatever she chose to say, and perhaps our expectations at the 
> beginning of her speech were a guarantee that we'd leave feeling 
> rather let down at the end.
>
> From the start, she struck me as off-form, speaking too hurriedly, 
> sometimes jumbling the words in her script, saying that "Alaska" was a 
> beacon of hope to the world (she meant to say "America"), and 
> generally using a tone of voice and style of delivery that seemed too 
> low-key for the size of the audience in the ballroom. Whoever writes 
> Palin's speeches now is clearly not a patch on Matthew Scully, her 
> speechwriter on the 2008 campaign. This speech lacked structure, 
> memorability, and direction. Its best bits were Palin's slaps at 
> Obama, like "How's that hopey-changey stuff workin' out for ya?" Most 
> of it was a rambling tour d'horizon of policy issues—national 
> security, defense, Iran, the economy, bailouts, and debt—on which 
> Palin had little more to offer than humdrum remarks like, "So, folks, 
> with all these serious challenges ahead, we've got private-sector job 
> creation that has got to take place and economic woes and health care, 
> the war on terror."
>
> Some of what she said was inaudible in the ballroom. When she said, 
> "We need a commander in chief! " the audience stood to applaud. 
> Through the din, I watched Palin's lips continue to move on the giant 
> monitor screens mounted on either side of the stage. An hour and a 
> half later, watching a replay of the speech on C-SPAN, I heard the 
> rest of the sentence: "...not a professor of law standing at the 
> lectern." When she was speaking live, plowing through her text, I 
> thought she must be late for her plane to Houston, where she was due 
> to address a rally for Governor Rick Perry the next morning, and was 
> gabbling to save every second that she could, in order to get to the 
> airport. Later, I'd see that I was wrong.
>
> The huge standing ovation ("Run, Sarah, Run!") at the end was more for 
> the concept of Palin, her epiphanic appearance among us in the flesh, 
> than it was for the lackluster speech she'd just delivered. On the way 
> out of the convention center, I heard no one talking about how fired 
> up they were by what they'd heard. In the elevator, a man said, "She 
> messed up some of her lines. She'd've been better with a 
> teleprompter." I reached my room in time to see a reporter from C-SPAN 
> interviewing a young woman in the ballroom lobby about her response to 
> the speech. She thought about the question for a while, and said, 
> carefully, "Well, I didn't disagree with anything she said."
>
> Then I watched the replay of the speech on television and was 
> surprised by how much more effective it sounded in my room than it had 
> in life. Palin wasn't so much speaking to the convention as she was 
> addressing the nation, in its millions of separate rooms like mine. 
> Her rapid, self-interrupting style of delivery was meant for the small 
> screen, where her jokes worked better, and her banalities about policy 
> had the pitch of kitchen-table conversation. It was far from a great 
> speech, and I doubt if it won her many fresh converts, but it sounded 
> a new note in her ever-surprising career: she was trying to find a 
> "presidential" voice, and this was her State of the Union.
>
> It happened that a Washington Post /ABC poll was being conducted as 
> Palin was speaking (the convention ran from February 4 to 6, the poll 
> from February 4 to 8). Palin's numbers were down across the board, 
> among Republicans, Democrats, and independents. More than 70 percent 
> of respondents said that she's unqualified for the presidency, up from 
> 60 percent in November last year. Even among "conservative 
> Republicans," only 45 percent think her qualified, down from 66 
> percent in November. No significant shift of opinion was observed 
> between the 6th and the 8th. But it's the provenance of the poll that 
> tea partiers will have seized on. The Washington Post and ABC News? 
> What else would one expect of the liberal, lamestream media?
>
> Notes
> [1]Named for Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven's article, "The 
> Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty," The Nation, May 2, 
> 1966. According to Wikipedia, "The two argued that many Americans who 
> were eligible for welfare were not receiving benefits, and that a 
> welfare enrollment drive would create a political crisis that would 
> force US politicians, particularly the Democratic Party, to enact 
> legislation 'establishing a guaranteed national income.'" Since 
> Obama's election, the Cloward-Piven piece has been widely cited on the 
> American right as "a malevolent strategy for destroying our economy 
> and our system of government." (James Simpson, "Cloward-Piven 
> Government," The American Thinker, November 23, 2009.)
>
> [2]After her speech, taking soft questions from the convention 
> organizer, Palin remarked that "it would be wise of us to start 
> seeking some divine intervention again in this country, so that we can 
> be safe and secure and prosperous again"; the applause that met this 
> line was intense but conspicuously scattered.
>







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