This morning Sarah Palin was billed to give a speech for the Susan B. Anthony List’s anti-abortion breakfast (an event that seemed somehow less appetizing than a pro-life lunch). About 550 people, who each paid $150 for a seat, first heard the SBA president talk about how the group will fight to get anti-abortion politicians elected come November and were then served plates that contained everything from sausage links to purple-flower garnishes.
The scene, as the people ate and waited for their Palin, was a colorful one. Women had arrived at the hall (in the Ronald Reagan building in Washington D.C.) awfully decked out for that time of the morning: sparkles and sequins were to be found on bulky necklaces, eyeglasses and “SARAH” broaches. There was a perhaps surprising amount of men for a meeting of SBA, whose core mission is to increase the amount of pro-life women in Congress, and many of the gents clutched Palin gear, whether a bright pink, autographed “Sarah for President!” hat or an “Vets4Palin” sign. A little girl ran round the tables with a bookmarked, dog-eared copy of Going Rogue, and many pretty young women looked toward the stage in anticipation.
Then she arrived, to the first of three standing ovations, and gave a speech that was one part Tea-Party praise, one part conservative feminist rhetoric and two parts tales of personal, birth-related triumph.
Reporters who have written about the event have largely latched on to two things: Palin’s catchy new animal metaphor, detailing how momma grizzlies are going to take back Washington from Obamacare supporters, and her passionate narrative about choosing to have her son Trig, a now 2-year-old with Down syndrome — submitted as evidence that there’s no circumstance wherein choosing to have a baby isn’t the right one.
For some, the latter portion of her speech was a cause to rethink assessments of the former Alaska governor. “Palin speaks in such broad generalities (time-tested truths or common-sense solutions) that you’d be crazy to even think about putting the body politic into her care,” writes the Washington Post‘s Jonathan Capehart. “But when the spotlight turns to anti-abortion issues, Palin shines bright. Abortion is a wrenching and emotional debate that’s waged as much with the heart as with the head. And Palin speaks from deeply held convictions rooted in personal experience.”
For others, it was simply evidence that Palin is setting out her choices as requirements for others. “So, what good is having women in all those leadership roles if they aren’t expected to make their own decisions, discern between particularities, or navigate special circumstances, but are instead expected to be in lockstep with their fembot leader no matter what?” wrote Sara Libby on True/Slant.
But no matter the reaction to the content of her speech, the delivery was, pretty much beyond argument, impressive. The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder, another breakfast attendee, ended his post on that point: “I don’t know if she’s running for president, and I do know that even Republicans believe that her substance chip needs to be updated,” he wrote. “But the Palin Voice is strong, it’s loud, it is different and it resonates.” And it certainly is cause to wonder how much it matters what is being said, in terms of political sway, when Palin is the one saying it.