February 6, 2010
F. Grey Parker
Sarah Palin went before a small but wealthy group of her faithful this evening to rile them up. It worked. The verbal equivalent of red meat was thrown copiously to an audience more than eager for the taste of blood. They devoured it, pun intended.
The speech was profoundly anti-intellectual. Ironically, it was also defiantly incoherent.
Welcome to the first annual Tea Party Convention. It's striking that Palin's folksy ham-fistedness could make Tom Tancredo's racist introductory speech from yesterday afternoon seem almost statesmanlike in comparison.
In near same breaths, she appealed for "greater civility" but also pined for a "Commander In Chief and not a law professor lecturing at his lectern." Ignoring the rudeness of her remark, it is simply troubling that the Law and Order wing of the Tea Party movement continues to have such obvious disregard for, well, The Law.
She spoke multiple times about the need to preserve not only our Constitution but it's ideals. She lamented that Obama's administration was diminishing the world's view of America as a "beacon of freedom" only moments after arguing that terrorists don't deserve "our" rights. It is rare to hear a political figure of her visibility use the word "rights" so often in a single speech with alternating extremes of reverence and disgust.
I hate to resort to the obvious:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." So begins the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence.
I read that to mean "all men." You know? Right there? Where it says "all"? Call me old fashioned but "all" means ALL. She and other Tea Party notables are wrapping themselves in the message that they and only they understand or wish to defend our Founding Father's philosophies. At the same time, they are demanding as large a list as possible of people for whom we should be obliged to suspend rights. Palin should consider that perhaps people around the globe view us less and less as a "beacon of freedom" because of her arguments.
Palin on Healthcare Reform? Interstate competition and tort reform.
On the Stimulus? Didn't work, you betcha.
On the Recession? Mavericky tax cuts.
On the Constitution? Obama hates it, fer sure.
The War on Terror? Obama doesn't want you to be safe.
Not one new or original idea was presented. No single specific legislative initiative was enorsed. Not one concrete proposal was made.
It had been my intention to rebut the points of what I had expected to be a carefully crafted speech. Alas, there is no arguing with madness operating at so low a level.
Be sure to check out Andrew Sullivan's liveblog of the speech. He watched it so you didn't have to.