'Mama Grizzly' Sarah Palin dishes red meat to CPAC conservative activists (+video)
Sarah Palin fired up the conservative CPAC crowd Saturday with tart one-liners aimed at mainstream Republicans as well as President Obama. But how long can she keep it up?
‚ÄúMama Grizzly‚ÄĚ Sarah Palin served up red meat at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday, lambasting President Obama and the ‚Äúmainstream media,‚ÄĚ sneering at efforts to ‚Äúrebrand‚ÄĚ the Republican Party, and telling political ‚Äúarchitects‚ÄĚ like Texan Karl Rove to ‚Äúgo back to the Lone Star State and put their name on the ballot.‚ÄĚ
The former governor of Alaska and 2008 losing vice presidential candidate may have no prospects of (or interest in) becoming an elected official again; she may no longer have a high-paying sinecure as a Fox News pundit; and she may be too hot to handle, too tea-party threatening for mainstream Republicans looking to break a string of five losses in the last six presidential popular votes.
‚ÄúModeration‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúaccommodation‚ÄĚ ‚Äď ideas the GOP may need to approach if not adopt on issues like immigration and gay rights ‚Äď would not be appropriate characteristics to describe Mrs. Palin.
But, boy, can she stir up a crowd ‚Äď especially if they‚Äôve been holed up in a conference room for nearly three days listening to what may have been inspiring speeches (some of them, anyway) delivered by lesser mortals. Her stand-up shtick killed.
But will it make any difference?
In a piece headlined ‚ÄúSarah Palin's next act: Candidate or 'Kardashian'?‚ÄĚ Politico‚Äôs Maggie Haberman asked conservative leaders about Palin‚Äôs possible future. Some of their responses:
Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, who backed John McCain‚Äôs picking Palin as his running mate in 2008: ‚ÄúThere was a ton of potential there, and it‚Äôs conceivable that there could be a second act, but it‚Äôs a little hard to see it now‚Ä¶. She didn‚Äôt run, obviously, in 2012, and she hasn‚Äôt really made herself a leader on any particular issue‚Ä¶. Usually you have to do one of those things ‚Ä¶ otherwise you‚Äôre just another pundit.‚ÄĚ
Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: ‚ÄúHer act as a celebrity is done. Her act as a political figure is possible ‚Äď if she applies herself.‚ÄĚ
¬†Ed Rollins, who managed campaigns for Ronald Reagan and Michele Bachmann: ‚ÄúHer moment in the sun has gone‚Ä¶. Being a talking head was not something that sustained her as a viable candidate‚Ä¶. She‚Äôs a personality in the same way the Kardashian family is.‚ÄĚ
Matthew Continetti, author of ‚ÄúThe Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star‚ÄĚ: ‚ÄúI think there‚Äôs no question her influence has waned.‚ÄĚ
But for 20 minutes Saturday afternoon, at least, and preaching to the conservative choir, Palin‚Äôs influence showed no sign of waning.
It was mostly one-liners ‚Äď her forte ‚Äď not detailed policy pronouncements on the economy or social issues, certainly no soul-searching of today‚Äôs Republican state of affairs. Some examples:
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt have leadership coming out of Washington. We have reality television. Except it‚Äôs really bad TV, and America tuned out a long time ago.‚ÄĚ
On gun sales: ‚ÄúMore background checks? Dandy idea, Mr. President. Shoulda started with yours.‚ÄĚ
On Obama‚Äôs reelection: ‚ÄúYou won. We get it. Now step away from the teleprompter and do your job.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúBarack Obama promised the most transparent administration ever. Barack Obama: You lie!‚ÄĚ It was an obvious reference to when Rep. Joe Wilson (R) of South Carolina shouted ‚ÄúYou lie‚ÄĚ during Obama‚Äôs speech on health care to a joint session of Congress in 2009 ‚Äď a breach of decorum for which Rep. Wilson was formally rebuked by the House of Representatives.
To the Republican establishment: ‚ÄúThey talk about rebuilding the party? How about rebuilding the middle class? They talk about rebranding the GOP, instead of restoring the trust of the American people. We're not here to dedicate ourselves to new talking points coming from D.C. We're not here to put a fresh coat of rhetorical paint on our party."
Palin may never run for election again. Her experience in office is neither broad nor deep: Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, (population 8,000), then half-term governor of a state with a population considerably smaller than Fresno County, California.
Alaska does have more bears and wolves than any other state, however, and it‚Äôs the mystique attached to such facts that stirs many tea party conservatives deeply dissatisfied with the political status quo ‚Äď including most of those, apparently, at this weekend‚Äôs CPAC convention to whom ‚ÄúMama Grizzly‚ÄĚ Sarah Palin remains a hero.
And they love her provocative appearance. They howled like school boys at her ribald comment about exchanging Christmas gifts with her husband Todd: ‚ÄúHe got the rifle and I got the rack.‚ÄĚ
CPAC keynoter Ted Cruz ‚Äď the freshman Republican US senator from Texas ‚Äď notes that he among other new conservative senators (Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, Pat Toomey, Nikki Haley, Deb Fischer, and Jeff Flake) owe their victories at least in part to Palin‚Äôs endorsement.
‚ÄúI would not be in the US Senate today without Sarah Palin,‚ÄĚ Sen. Cruz told the crowd in introducing Palin Saturday.
If she continues to get receptions like she did at CPAC, Palin may have another electoral cycle or two in which to work her political magic.