The National Review: The Palin Revolution Re-cap At Saturday's Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Sarah Palin blasted the Obama administration in a 45-minute keynote address.
NPR logo The National Review: The Palin Revolution Re-cap

The National Review: The Palin Revolution Re-cap

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin addresses attendees at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010. Ed Reinek/AP hide caption

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Ed Reinek/AP

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin addresses attendees at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010.

Ed Reinek/AP

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin blasted the Obama administration on Saturday night during her 45-minute keynote address at the inaugural national "tea party" convention in Nashville. Palin said the president must "stop lecturing and start listening" and questioned whether Obama's 2008 campaign theme was succeeding: "How's that hopey-changey stuff working out for you?" she asked, to cheers. "It's time they stop blaming everyone else."

America is "ready for another revolution," Palin said. The tea-party movement, she added, "is about the people" and "it's a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter." (Palin, interestingly, gave the speech without one.) The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee also urged the GOP "to absorb as much of the Tea Party as possible." The Tea Party, she said, "is the future of politics." It is "inspiring," she said, "to see real people, not politicos, inside-the-beltway professionals, come out, stand up, and speak out for commonsense conservative principles." In a sign of her support, Palin pledged to give her compensation from the appearance (reportedly $100,000) "right back to the cause."

Palin began her speech by saying "happy birthday" to former president Ronald Reagan, who would have been 99 years old on Saturday. She then gave "a special shout-out to America’s newest senator," Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.). "He looked around and he saw things just weren't quite right in Washington," Palin said, admiringly. "He stood up and he decided that he was going to do his part to put our government back on the side of the people. And it took guts, and it took a lot of hard work. But with grassroots support, Scott Brown carried the day."

Brown's upset, Palin said, is part of a "beautiful movement" of conservatives winning important elections across America, pointing to Republican gubernatorial wins in New Jersey and Virginia last year as examples. "If there is hope in Massachusetts, there is hope everywhere," she said. "His victory is a sign of more good things to come." Obama, she chided, is now "0 and 3" in major elections in the past year. Looking ahead, Palin added that the GOP should not be afraid of contested primaries, saying such contests are "how we’re going to find the cream of the crop to face a challenger in the general."

On policy matters, Palin's speech was wide-ranging. She spoke out in favor of a "pro-market agenda" and tax cuts. "Get government out of the way," she said. "If they would do this, our economy would roar back to life." On health care, Palin criticized the special deals in the Senate, railing against the "Cornhusker Kickback" and the "Louisiana Purchase." A bipartisan bill, with tort reform, she said, is needed, as is a "start over" on negotiations. She also praised Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) for "standing up" for the sanctity of life during the health-care debate and joked about how C-SPAN was "welcome" to cover the tea party, but not welcome to broadcast the White House and congressional deliberations.

When it came to fiscal policy, Palin called President Obama's proposed 2011 budget "immoral" for heaping trillions onto the national debt. Increasing the deficit, she said, is "generational theft," "makes us less free," and "should tick us off." Kill the "second stimulus," she advised, and "beware that it is being billed as a jobs bill." Palin also criticized the administration for being unable to handle multiple policy issues simultaneously: "If you can’t ride two horses at once, you shouldn't be in the circus," she said, to laughs.

National-security issues featured prominently. "National security — that's one place where you got to call it like it is," Palin said. She expressed displeasure at the "disturbing" way in which the Obama administration treated the failed Christmas bomb plot of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — as a "crime spree" and not as an "act of war." That kind of thinking, she said, is what helped lead to September 11.

"Treating this like a mere law-enforcement matter places our country at great risk because that's not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this," Palin said. "They know we're at war, and to win that war we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern." The administration, she worried, uses "misguided thinking" and believes that foreign policy can be "managed through the politics of personality."

Palin also called for more open dialogue about God in America during a question-and-answer session following the speech. "America's spirit," she said, can "rise again by not being afraid to kind of go back to some of our roots as a God-fearing nation where we're not afraid to say — especially in times of potential trouble in the future — you know, we don't have all the answers. As fallible men and women, 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 country, she said, needs politicians unafraid "to go that route, not so afraid of the political correctness . . . to proclaim their alliance to our Creator."

Andrew Breitbart, the founder of BigGovernment.com, introduced Palin. Her remarks were carried live by C-SPAN and all three major cable-news networks and covered by 240 journalists at the convention hall. When Palin bounded onto the stage, and when she left it, chants of "Run, Sarah, Run" could be heard throughout the audience. On her lapel, Palin wore a small pin with two flags — for Israel and the United States.