I thought I’d give you a wrap up of the week with my own thoughts and recollections.
Governor Sarah Palin is the Real Deal.
It was a privilege to meet her, and her husband, and her mother, and her aunts. Folks, these are real, every day, down to earth people. No putting on airs, no falsity, just real people – and frankly a breath of fresh air.
Politically, that is going to connect with most of the heartland of this country. The northeastern liberal elites, especially in the media, will never understand the Palins, and will never understand why they connect at such a deep level with ordinary Americans. Neither will the West Coast Hollywood crowd. But the vast middle of the country, stretching from the Sierras to the edges of the Beltway, will understand this family perfectly – because we and they are the same. These are normal people with normal struggles and triumphs and challenges. That is why the left and the media have gone bonkers trying to cut her to ribbons – they understand the danger Governor Palin brings without understanding her at all.
Her speech was simply brilliant – even more so because the teleprompter had died a third of the way through. When they checked the tape to the original, she had changed one only word (not counting the insertion of the now famous pit bull/hockey mom/lipstick reference). That is a sign of a great and polished speaker who kept her head remarkably well.
But her speech, while fantastic, wasn’t the memory I will cherish the most from this convention. Later that night, after we rode the bus back to the hotel, but before we went to the party up the street, a number of us were in the hotel lobby/lounge area. In walks Henry Kissinger. I get to meet Henry Kissinger and shake his hand – too weird. I’m still in that lobby (after taking a few pictures) when I hear the elevator ding – and in walks Sarah and Todd Palin. They meet a few people and chat, and pose for pictures, before the Secret Service politely reminds her to keep moving, and she does – into the hotel lounge/restaurant area.
The roar that went up from the folks in the hotel lounge is a sound I will remember for the rest of my life. It sounded like a Stanley Cup winning goal had been scored, or a Super Bowl winning touchdown – in overtime. The hotel shook with the noise – and then they all started chanting “SARAH… SARAH…” I get choked up just remembering that sound. I spoke with someone Friday morning who still had chills just thinking about it – she was on the third floor and on the other end of the hotel, and she still heard it (and wondered why she wasn’t downstairs in the lounge…)
One last thought on Sarah Palin – sometime Wednesday night, around 11PM EDT, the Presidential hopes of Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, and anyone else whose name was on this year’s ballot – their future White House hopes died that night. Anyone on this year’s ballot had only this year to pull the trick – and that moment has now passed. The entrance of Sarah Palin onto the national stage heralds the end of one generation of Republican politician and the beginning of the next. This new breed is conservative socially and fiscally, but is reform minded – something the Big Government breed of Republicans just can’t get. The corruption, scandal, and failure of Tom Delay, Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Duke Cunningham and the K Street cabal has led inexorably to a generation of leaders like Governors Palin, Jindal and Sanford (and probably others we don’t even know yet) who will lead this party into the future. I welcome this development wholeheartedly, even as I remain concerned with some of Senator McCain’s own proclivities on border security and global warming…
Other highlights of this week: Wednesday night’s speech lineup was rock star – and they all hit it out of the park. Huckabee, Romney, Giuliani – all did fantastic jobs at warming things up. That more people watched Wednesday night than watched Obama’s speech augurs well for the Republicans this fall.
Lowlights of the week – protestor idiots, especially the ones that MSNBC allowed to get access into the arena on Thursday night. Shame on MSNBC for knowingly giving protestors badges so they could make trouble – someone needs to get fired for that, just as someone needs to get prosecuted for stealing the identity of an Indiana delegate to gain unlawful access.
People I got to meet (and really enjoyed): The Palins, Mayor Giuliani, Jon Voight, Mary Katherine Ham, Henry Kissinger, and the guy who played George Washington.
SC people (some delegates) I had the pleasure of hanging out with this week: Lou and Patrick Nolan, Doug and LouEllen Robertson, Gen. Richard and Linnea Eckstrom, Kevin Hall, Jim Corbett, Reps. Alan Clemmons, Tracy Edge, Eric Bedingfield, and Wendy Nanney (along with her husband Tim), Glenn McCall, Moye Graham (who is a prince), Eaddy Roe Willard, Katrina Shealy, and Drew McKissick. Special Thanks also to the folks who did videos this week: Lt. Gov Bauer, Atty Gen. McMaster, Speaker Harrell, Congressmen Wilson and Inglis, Rep. Bedingfield, and Kevin Hall. I do wish Governor Sanford could’ve stayed longer (we had to cancel the scheduled video due to Hanna’s arrival) and that Rep. Gresham Barrett could’ve come up (something happened there and that video didn’t happen either).
It was a pleasure and a privilege to go to this convention with such a fine delegation – even more so under the leadership of our Chairman, Katon Dawson, who did remarkable work this week. Jay W., Katie, Lisa, and Rob also were terrific, and did a ton of work keeping things running. Well done all.
So now it’s back to work. I’m back in Lexington, dodging the hurricane on the drive down from Charlotte airport last night. After this many nights of too little sleep, I think it’s nap time…