The Campaign Spot

Palin in Iowa: Fine Speech, Unless You Wanted an Announcement

I wasn’t able to watch Sarah Palin’s speech yesterday; this morning I finally had a chance to read the transcript.


Having just read it, I’d say it reads like a pretty darn fine speech, at least as a diagnosis (or partial diagnosis) of what is holding America back.

Sure, she lamented “even some good conservatives” who “talk vaguely about cuts and then they move on,” and then seemed to embody this flaw when she later proposed to “rein in burdensome regulations that are a boot on our neck. Get government out of the way. Let the private sector breathe and grow.” After emphasizing how important entitlement reform was, she said, “Entitlement reform is our duty now, and it must be done in a way that honors our commitment to our esteemed elders today, while keeping faith with future generations.” Er, okay, but how? Raise the retirement age? Means-test for benefits? Raise payroll taxes? Reduce benefits?

It’s fine and admirable to call for eliminating corporate welfare, but some examples would be helpful. Say, Solyndra?

Finally, I’m sure if you traveled to Iowa, or watched live out of an eager expectation that this was the long-awaited presidential announcement, it was tortuous and/or a disappointment.

But even with all of that, it was a better mix of plain-spoken arguments and one-liners than we’ve seen from anyone else on the trail so far this year. You read the mix of serious jabs and humor, like this passage . . .

Just look what happened during the debt-ceiling debate. We’d been given warning after warning that our credit rating would be downgraded if politicians didn’t get serious about tackling the debt and deficit problem. But instead of making the real cuts that are necessary, they used Enron-like accounting gimmicks, and they promised that if they were just allowed to spend trillions more today, they’d cut billions ten years from now. By some magical thinking, they figured they could run up trillion dollar deficits year after year, yet still somehow avoid the unforgiving mathematics that led to the downgrade. Well, they got a rude awakening from the rest of the world, and that’s that even America isn’t “too big to fail.”

When we finally did get slapped with that inevitable downgraded, the politicians and the pundits turned around and blamed us — independent commonsense conservatives. We got blamed! They called us un-American and terrorists and suicide bombers and . . . hobbits . . . couldn’t understand that one.

And what is the President’s answer to this enormous debt problem? It’s just spend more money. Only you can’t call it “spending” now. Now you got to call it “investing.” Don’t call it “spending.” Call it “investing.” It’s kind of like what happens with FEMA and some of these other bureaucratic agencies that don’t really want to refer to our centralized federal government as “government.” Now it’s called the “federal family.” Am I too old to ask to be emancipated? Never thought I’d say it, but I want a divorce.

And you see why she’s such an effective communicator, when she’s at the top of her game.

Still, if Sarah Palin does intend to run for president, she is running up a bit close against the “official” deadline, November 1, which is to file papers to appear on the ballot in South Carolina. (She or her supporters would have to submit her name for inclusion on the ballot in Florida the preceding day, October 31.) The deadline for New Hampshire is the third Friday in November.

So we’re now less than two months away from that hard deadline. Having had several years to chew over this big decision, it’s hard to believe that she isn’t at least leaning one way or the other. If she wants to run, what does she gain by delaying? If she doesn’t want to run, why not come out and say it and let her supporters have more time to evaluate the field?

I’ll be discussing Dick Cheney’s book, Sarah Palin, and the Obama jobs-speech scheduling on CNN’s Reliable Sources at 11 a.m.


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