Having watched Sarah Palin's speech to the Tea Party gathering in Nashville and some of the follow up interviews, I thought I'd stick my neck out and report my take on it. It will be interesting, if only to myself, to see how often I change my tune over the months preceding the 2012 election cycle!
I'm beginning to understand Palin's immense popularity. I see a woman who is just enough politician to be canny. I see a woman who has taken her lumps and has come to realize she isn't quite where she needs to be to have the credibility to run for the highest of offices. She certainly is smart enough to be in the House or Senate when compared to many already there. I see a woman enjoying her fame and new found stature. I see a woman still determining where she wants it to take her.
Back to her popularity. She speaks in sharp, witty sound bites. She stumbles over her notes. She speaks the language, by golly, of everyman. I do believe that's why the average man and woman on the street love her. There was a lot she said with which I disagree and just as much that I agreed with whole heartedly. For instance, why preach non-partisanism if you really don't intend to practice it!
I don't quite agree with her idea of what the Tea Party movement is all about. I think she thinks it will be folded into the Republicanism of old. If she means that which became before the Christian right movement took over, she could be right. If she means a return to the narrow vision of anti-gay, anti-abortion litmus test I think she's wrong. The Republicans should know that they cannot win on those issues but I've yet to see evidence that they do.
This is where I see the Tea Party movement differently. It may lean heavily Republican but I think it's more inclusive than that. I think it embraces a good many centrist Democrats and lot of Independents that aren't quite ready to join the Republican fold. It's ability to be a force depends on those Independents.
Ms. Palin has plenty of time to study the tea leaves and see what they tell her. I expect to see her testing the waters in many ways. She'll endorse candidates to determine if her endorsements are effective or detrimental. I expect to see her on air performances become more polished and substantive.
At this point in time I don't expect her to announce a candidacy for President. I would expect her name to placed in nomination with or without her blessing and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see an attempt to draft her.
In the meantime she is probably the most intriguing political personality of the times. She needs to grow. She has the time. For now, she provides a rallying point for every disillusioned, frustrated voter out there because of her ability to connect with them.
She has a "gift" much as Obama had. He rallied the people with his eloquence, well rehearsed and in front of him on teleprompters. Palin's gift is her very ordinariness. Agree with her or not, she speaks from the heart. That resonates!