- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2008

Reagan’s return

“I’ve been trying to convince my fellow conservatives that they have been wasting their time in a fruitless quest for a new Ronald Reagan to emerge and lead our party and our nation. I insisted that we’d never see his like again because he was one of a kind,” son Michael Reagan writes at www.humanevents.com.

“I was wrong!” Mr. Reagan said.

“Wednesday night I watched the Republican National Convention on television and there, before my very eyes, I saw my Dad reborn; only this time he’s a she.

“And what a she!

“In one blockbuster of a speech, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin resurrected my Dad’s indomitable spirit and sent it soaring above the convention center, shooting shock waves through the cynical media’s assigned spaces and electrifying the huge audience with the kind of inspiring rhetoric we haven’t heard since my Dad left the scene.

“This was Ronald Reagan at his best — the same Ronald Reagan who made the address known now solely as ‘The Speech,’ which during the Goldwater campaign set the tone and the agenda for the rebirth of the traditional conservative movement that later sent him to the White House for eight years and revived the moribund GOP.”

Another Thatcher

“Twenty years after Ronald Reagan left office, Republicans who have long missed him may have found a future Margaret Thatcher,” John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com.

“If John McCain wins, conservatives may find one of the most enduring accomplishments of his term will have been what he did before it started: helping to fill the Republican Party’s future talent bench with such a fresh and compelling figure,” Mr. Fund said.

Sarah Palin is a conviction politician, a naturally compelling speaker and someone who can relate to her audience on very human terms. America has just learned why Mrs. Palin enjoys the highest approval ratings of any governor in America.

“Liberal commentators glumly noted the thunderous applause in the convention hall last night. But they could do precious little to attack. Even Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s official attack dog, could muster only this as commentary on Mrs. Palin’s performance: ‘People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.’

“One of the standard operating theories this Election Year is that Barack Obama and the Democrats are much more energized, excited and willing to work hard for victory in November.

“After Sarah Palin’s remarkably effective speech, I don’t think any pundits or politicians will be able to count on a decisive Democratic enthusiasm edge. Sarah Palin electrified the hall, and from what I can tell from my e-mail in-box, that excitement is being replicated in living rooms across the country.”

Shell-shocked

“If you watched MSNBC on mute Wednesday night after Sarah Palin’s speech, it looked like the top story was that a hurricane swept through the North Pole and killed Santa Claus, so crestfallen were the network’s stars,” Stephen Spruiell writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“It was the same with the sound up. Keith Olbermann’s first words after the applause in the Xcel Center finally died down were, ‘That appears to be the end of it.’ He sounded relieved.

Chris Matthews, who gets thrills up his leg when Mr. Obama speaks, sounded shell-shocked. ‘Well, I have to say that I was completely surprised by what I saw,’ he said, without an ounce of enthusiasm. ‘She is a torpedo aimed directly at the ship of Barack and Michelle Obama. That’s what she is. She’s an alternative to them. This is not an alternative to Hillary. This is a cultural alternative to Obama and his proposed first lady. This is a very direct cultural shot.’

“After he’d had a moment to compose himself, Olbermann tried to come up with a better reaction. Of the speech, he said there was some ‘condescension in there towards Obama.’ Condescension is an interesting word. Here’s a woman who was belittled for being a small-town mayor by a guy who described small-town people as clinging to their guns and religion because they’re bitter. And yet, when she hits him back, she’s the condescending one.

“It wasn’t just MSNBC’s anchors who were struggling to respond. On the floor of the convention center, a visibly depressed Andrea Mitchell interviewed a beaming Rudy Giuliani about Palin’s speech. Some context: Last week, reporting from among the Democratic delegates at Invesco Field, Mitchell relayed the reaction of the delegates to some of Obama’s best lines, literally shouting, ‘Whooee! Whooee!’ into the camera.

“But there would be no sharing in the Republican delegates’ joy over Palin’s speech for Mitchell. Instead, after her interview with Rudy was over (sample question: ‘And you don’t think she’s vulnerable on the size and scale of her executive experience and the brevity of her political experience?’), she stared dead-eyed into the camera and said, ‘The war has begun.’”

A star is born

“That was easy. Sarah Palin delivered what may have been the most important speech ever by a vice presidential candidate and made it look like she’d been performing on the national political stage for years. And she made John McCain look good for having picked her as his running mate,” Fred Barnes writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“Yet, as governor of Alaska, Palin had never addressed as large a crowd as she did [Wednesday] night at the Republican convention. She’d never before given a nationally televised speech in prime-time. And she’d never had to deal with a situation filled with such political peril for her, McCain, and the Republican Party,” Mr. Barnes said.

“So how in the world could this 44-year-old woman with no national political experience handle the whole thing with poise and composure and seeming effortlessness? Simple. She’s a natural, gifted with the ability to connect with people in a way that few politicians can and to perform under extreme pressure. She has star quality.

“Political figures like this don’t come along very often. And heaven knows Republicans haven’t seen anyone like Palin emerge from their ranks since Ronald Reagan first attracted national attention in 1964. That’s a long time to wait. They’ve been starved for a leader with charisma and a knack for leadership. Now they have one.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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