Friday, December 04, 2009

Palin's Revolution: No Teleprompter Required

By Nicole Coulter, aka Recovering Democrat

During her 2006 run for governor, Sarah Palin took advantage of public uproar over Frank Murkowski’s expensive state-purchased jet which had become emblematic of the waste and abuse of good-old-boy politics. She said the governor didn’t need it. And as soon as she got elected, she sold it.

With the run-up to 2012, Palin perhaps has found a similar object of public distain to use to her advantage should she run for president: The much-ridiculed teleprompter.

In what had to be a blow to teleprompter manufacturers everywhere, the former governor and now best-selling author spoke to a large audience in Hollister, Mo. this past week equipped only with a few notes and her convictions.

As 5,000 supporters in a basketball gymnasium hung on her every breath, Palin delivered a stirring hour-long speech about patriotism and public service that earned multiple standing ovations. She paused gracefully during each interruption, then continued on her rapidfire way without missing a beat. In expressing her common sense conservative message, she started by sharing her belief that we are all created with purpose, and that we must "keep our eyes open for signposts" that will guide us to our life's mission. She quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., saying, "Discover what you were made to do," and then recounted her own calling to public service with local government, which she called a great training ground for national leaders. She encouraged others to serve locally, even if it didn't seem glamorous. She confessed her "inner nerd" when it came to poring over budgets and making decisions in the public's best interests. "In local politics, your constituents are your neighbors. You see them at the grocery store. That is why local government is the most responsive."

Her remarks flowed naturally from an internalized script. She delivered the whole oration and powerful conclusion with the passion and charisma of a natural leader. It was a speech fit for the times and yet, perfectly timeless.

And, no teleprompter was required.

This was Sarah literally unplugged.

Palin, ever the master of symbolic politics, no doubt senses that the electorate is craving a return to simple virtues and responsive leadership. They’re clamoring for authenticity and substance rather than contrived style. Her ability to stand and deliver an hour-long inspiring speech without the crutch of a teleprompter not only distinguishes her from her natural rival, the teleprompter-happy President Obama, but it reinforces her key message: We can prosper by our own merit. We are free people.

"Pioneers carved a nation out of a wilderness,” Palin said. “We are a nation built by rugged individuals.”

Thousands of these “rugged individuals” turned out on a frigid night to witness a strong woman fighting for nothing less than the soul of a nation, a nation she says is experiencing an identity crisis and "failure of confidence" because many of its citizens have forgotten the virtues that made our country great. It’s almost as if we’ve all become dependent on some sort of addictive, expensive crutch, and Sarah Palin is telling us we don’t need it.

“We can prosper by our own merit, and voluntarily help our neighbors,” she said. “In the great history of our country, we’ve never believed that government was supposed to take care of us.”

In ordinary times, this statement might have been simply a given. In an era of bailouts and trillion-dollar stimulus plans, Palin’s ideas, like her rejection of the teleprompter, are revolutionary. She believes hard work, thrift, personal responsibility, neighborliness – and pioneer optimism – will lead us out of our national crisis – not government handouts financed by an ever-growing public debt.

It was fitting that Palin spoke on the campus of the College of the Ozarks, a place where tuition is free for most students, but work is required of all. Students at this Christian school graduate debt-free with profound appreciation for the value of sweat equity and the honor of public service. The mission of the school squares with Palin’s own academic experience where she worked her way through college over five years without help from her parents or school loans. She says she never even considered asking her parents for money given that there were four Heath children going through college in close succession.

“In 22 years since I graduated from the University of Idaho, it never occurred to me that my college experience was something to be ashamed of,” Palin says. “I wanted to graduate debt free.” In the vice presidential campaign, however, snobbish critics blasted Palin for taking five years to earn a bachelor’s degree. “This is how people used to get through college,” Palin said, expressing her disbelief over the criticism.

Before Palin’s remarks Wednesday, the College of the Ozarks honored several unlikely heroes who had distinguished themselves through service in the military and philanthropy. Many came from obscurity but worked their way to prominence. Palin herself helped hand out the bronzed eagle trophies to two retired generals and other members of the Greatest Generation – a generation marked by its willingness to sacrifice and work to get ahead.

Palin is indeed contrasting herself with the present administration. But it’s not a forced contrast, but rather a natural one. Alaska is the last frontier, after all. Palin noted in her book that Wasilla is known as the duct tape capital of the world. People jury-rig stuff, and get by under “less than ideal circumstances.” They are thrifty.

Sarah Palin embodies that Alaskan thriftiness. She made it perfectly clear in her speech: of all the things she hates, at the top of her list is wasting time or money. "Time is our most precious resource,” she said. “As a city council member and mayor I hated to waste time on non-important things at meetings because I was giving up a night with my young children. I worked hard to get things done and didn’t waste time.” She called the quadrupling of the deficit "generational theft." She said that the burdensome national debt was sapping confidence from the private sector and constituted a "drag on the economy."

Of her Independence Day-eve resignation, she cast it in terms of her natural thriftiness and aversion to wasting time, “My team had become a target simply because of who the team leader was. I had a choice. Being a pragmatist I asked myself how smart it was to continue on.” As a public servant, she said, there was no alternative but to resign after much prayerful consideration, and despite loving her job. “A politician holds on to power. A public servant puts the people first. A public servant recognizes when the public is hurting."

Palin expressed faith in her new outside-the box strategy regardless of the political consequences: “Too many politicians only consider their next career move without concern for how that decision hurts the public.”

At the outset, Palin told her audience that her remarks would be about making decisions under “less than ideal circumstances.” In Palin’s case, those less-than-ideal circumstances could have included power failure for all she cares. She’s unplugged. In reality, life is never ideal. And maybe that’s why a teleprompter may just embody American dissatisfaction with Washington, D.C. right now. We feel like in too many instances we’re getting overly polished, packaged politicians without the underlying depth of character. We’re getting the well-read lines without the true passion or conviction. And we’re getting leaders addicted to power, not public service.

As Sarah surveyed the crowd this past Wednesday night, and the audience cheered her on, there were no darkened glass panels between her and the people. There were no handlers or technicians in the wings feeding her the lines. Sarah was keeping it real. And that seemed the precise message she wished to convey.


karenfromny 12/04/2009 8:38 PM  

That was a great write up. No teleprompter is even better. When it comes from the heart you don't need a teleprompter.

grapp 12/04/2009 9:12 PM  

When it comes from knowledge, executive experience, and a core of solid American values, you don't need a teleprompter.

Good review. Thanks.

Greg 12/04/2009 9:39 PM  

A totally different perspective than that given by the establishment media. Naturally, they failed to point out the fact that Gov. Palin delivered her speech without a prompter. 0bama uses a prompter for even the simplist of announcements, and they dare call Gov. Palin's current book signing tour tightly controlled. Whenever I've seen
0bama without a prompter a very poor product is produced, even with one he sometimes stumbles. When the prompter goes down 0bama comes to a complete stop and waits for it to be corrected. That tells me that he 1) doesn't write his own material 2) he's not smart enough to familiarize himself enough before hand so that the can continue without the prompter, and 3) he is even unfamiliar with the subject of his remarks, and depends exclusively on the words and thoughts of others.

Gov. Palin is a truly unique individual, a true American, and a true leader. She is just what this country needs now more than ever.

bestbud 12/04/2009 9:58 PM  

great thoughts and perspective of Sarah's speech, so happy you were there to file it. As you know I was there and agree 100% with you and this write up but would have never been able to do it justice like you. Your wish you mentioned to me on the phone hopefully will, with Gods blessing, come true.
Best wishes don

Doug Brady 12/04/2009 9:58 PM  

Great job writing that up Nicole.

manajordan 12/04/2009 10:18 PM  

That was a fantastic write-up Nicole. Thanks so much for doing that. Thanks for letting us share in the awesome opportunity it was for you to be there. The speech sounds like it was stunningly fantastic.

William Henley 12/04/2009 10:27 PM  

What a wonderful write-up. It is like I was there. Thank-you! As an Alaskan, I surely miss our Sarah since she spends so much time down there. Lovely, lovely, just lovely.

a3strand 12/04/2009 11:03 PM  

You are so talented nicole. That was masterfully written and completely accurate. It was a pleasure meeting you and Stephanie at Borders and I know our paths will cross again on the campaign trail. God Bless and Go Sarah!

Whitney The Pipsqueak 12/04/2009 11:38 PM  

That was wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

militantfeather 12/05/2009 1:22 AM  

Excellent article Nicole, great read and sounds like anothe great speech by Palin.

Panchita 12/05/2009 7:08 AM  

great article. thanks. i like her explanation as to why she quit the governership

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