So says even Wolf Blitzer at, of all places, CNN.
Wow. There are a lot of Republicans having what Charlotte Hays calls a Chris Matthews moment. Sarah Palin's speech was a masterwork. She was intelligent, witty and charismatic. The speech was a quite sophisticated weave of biography, policy positions, praise of McCain and attacks on Obama in a way that wound up emphasizing her governing accomplishments (a rather longer list than Obama can present)and subtly responding to the various attempts to portray her as a fanatical and uninformed bit of white trash.
She took the fact that she is from a small town and tied it to the condescension that has gotten Obama in so much trouble in Appalachia. She ticked off a rather impressive list of accomplishments in twenty months as Governor and contrasted it with Obama's fairly unimpressive record as a legislator. (He's a tree shaker, not a jelly maker.) One thing that Alaska helps her with is energy policy where she has some natural credibility and some real achievement. She ties that in with international energy markets in a first attempt to demonstrate foreign policy cred. She weaves her defense on McCain into a rather moving discussion of the need to resist evil and the lessons born of humility and powerlessness.
It's not hard to see how she went from the PTA to the state house. Her political skills are different than Obama's, but no less impressive.
The speech was that much more impressive because it was delivered by a newcomer to the national scene who had been subject to what was perhaps an unprecedented five day sliming. It quite obviously didn't get to her.
What I found amazing is that, although the speech was obviously written for her (so are Obama's), it was wonderfully well tailored to her voice.
My guess is that Obama partisans will complain that it was too partisan (that what's the VP nominee traditionally does) and too conservative (although it did not strike me as highly ideological). Fine. But, while there is only so much that the veep nominee can do for the ticket, if you're a Democrat and you want to be candid (or realistic), you have to see this woman as trouble. You have to admit that it looks like she can play at this level.
Were there any weaknesses? She started a bit slowly. The speech was a tad folksy, for my taste, but that may just be me. To put it in the terms of my profession, she came across as a great jury lawyer and not a law professor. My guess is that this is who she is and rather than contain it, she needs to balance it by showing that she knows her stuff.
She also has the challenge that all professional women have. She can't appear to be too tough. Tonight, I think she skewered Obama with a smile and in a way that came across as funny rather than mean. But there is little doubt that she is Sarah Barracuda.
Some of her kids looked like they didn't know what to do (although the youngest daughter is an adorable little ham). I don't think it hurts her. It underscores the fact that this is just a normal family.
There is a long road ahead, but this is about as impressive a beginning as one could expect.