Sarah Palin spent the day here in my neck of the woods yesterday, bringing her considerable star power and enthusiasm as she helped to raise money for a local Christian school. I was fortunate to be able to attend Palin's speech as the guest of a friend who teaches drama at the school. It was an exciting night. Palin spent ample time discussing the role of faith in public life and stressed the importance of educating the younger generations on civics to preserve American exceptionalism and love of liberty. The press coverage, however, focused on Palin's teaser of an opening comment:
After an alumnus of the private school, north of Doylestown in Bucks County, finished an uplifting performance of "God Bless America," she coyly asked him, "Would you like to sing that at an Inauguration?"You can hear Daniel's amazing performance of "God Bless America" at the 26 minute mark in the UStream video below. Palin's remarks begin at the 38 minute mark:
It should be noted that Palin's opening teaser is followed by a more circumspect answer to the $64,000 question whether she intends to run for president. At the conclusion of a question and answer segment, Palin was asked by the school's chancellor, Dean Whiteway, if she would like to take the opportunity to make an announcement and absent that would she describe the criteria she would use to make a decision to run. Palin seemed taken back by the question and answered "Goodness gracious, I'm speechless." She went on to say that it would take "prayerful consideration and polling of my family." She elaborated saying, "“I wouldn’t do it just to shake it up, just to cause people in a competitive primary to have to debate and articulate what their solutions would be for the country.” She stated with certainty, "I would be in it to win it." She concluded her answer with, " I would certainly have to put a lot more thought into it than what I could give you today."
I haven't found video of Palin's answer to the chancellor's question. The segment was conducted primarily by students and was not permitted to be videotaped. The tone of Palin's answer was decidedly guarded, in my opinion. Whether Palin has not fully made the decision to run or she is not yet ready to declare is anyone's guess and will likely fill the pages of many news reports in coming days. Personally, I thought she was being more candid in her response there than in her opening statement which was intended to rev up a crowd that was clearly already in her corner.
Most of her opening was intended to be humorous as she relayed stories about Bristol loading up her truck and moving to Beverly .... Hills that is. She touched on all the factors that weighed against Britol's decision to participate in "Dancing With the Stars." She chose this anecdote wisely, in my opinion. The story led to Palin relaying Bristol's inspiring conclusion that she would be criticized regardless of her decision and that "she might as well dance." This set the tone for Palin's remarks to an audience of committed Christian students and their families as she discussed the challenges of preserving the role of faith in the public square. Palin stressed the importance of courage as those who speak of the unifying quality of faith and belief in God face certain criticism. She returned to Bristol's statement here saying, "like Bristol said, 'you're going to be criticized anyway, might as well dance.'"
Palin was asked several different questions by students that generated interesting answers. One student asked which women inspired Palin. I expected that Palin might answer as she did in the 2008 election but Palin didn't mention Hillary Clinton. Palin chose Margaret Thatcher as a woman who inspired her, commenting on her grace and courage. Palin also mentioned her own mother, though not a public figure, she was a source of inspiration to Palin as a woman and mother. Palin also was asked about her own faith and how she balanced that in public life. Palin mentioned the criticism here again but concluded that she could not imagine how she, or anyone for that matter, would survive in politics without faith. The students asked great questions and Palin answered them thoughtfully. I particularly enjoyed seeing her interact and respond to the students in this segment.
Palin's largest applause line came during her segment with the students. She was asked by a young girl what was the one thing she would do as president. Palin answered without hesitation, she would repeal and replace ObamaCare. The audience erupted in applause as she elaborated, "This takeover of one-sixth of our economy, this Obamacare, is the mother of all unfunded mandates." Our newly-elected Congressman, Mike Fitzpatrick, was in the audience. His presence symbolized the strength of opposition to the health care law he promised to work on repealing and replacing as well.
I have to comment that after seeing Sarah Palin live it is truly stunning how unfairly she is covered by the media. I have written about her unfair coverage at some length on this blog so I certainly shouldn't be surprised by it. It was still an experience to see this series of photos from the event posted by the Allentown Morning Call. Each photo captures Palin's expression as she spoke last night, yet I don't recall noting any of them. At one point a man with what had to be the biggest camera I have ever seen parked himself on the aisle right next to us and shot photos continuously. It was a bit loud and distracting. Notice in the pictures above I caught none of that with my new Canon SX130. Palin is never depicted with a halo behind her head either, unlike someone else we know. Just sayin.
Memeorandum has a thread on a "faux cookie" controversy Palin supposedly generated with her visit as well. Palin, wasn't baking a controversy from thin air as reports might suggest:
Sarah Palin is calling Pennsylvania's plans to issue new guidelines limiting the number of sweets allowed in classrooms: "a nanny state run amok".Politico reports Palin was responding to a report that has since been retracted while ABC notes, "The Pennsylvania Board of Education expects to vote on the new guidelines this spring. Again, these are just guidelines - not a legislative order." As a parent whose children attended public school here I can say that restrictions on what parents are allowed to send to school have become increasingly prohibitive over the years. I was always one of the mothers who ended up being homeroom mom and by the time my children were out of elementary school the list of items and activities that could be brought in the classroom for parties was extraordinary. Palin's comments were not lost on this audience of Pennsylvania parents I can assure you. Cookiegate is a controversy baked in the minds of the media hoping to discredit her I fear.
"I look at Pennsylvania and I think of sweets - I think of Hershey. Then I think, how dare they ban sweets from school here," said Palin.
Before her Bucks County speech, she tweeted that she intended to bring the students cookies to make her point about "laissez faire government."
"I brought dozens and dozens of cookies. I had to shake it up for you guys, especially the press okay."
The event concluded when two students presented Palin with a lovely parting gift. In the picture slideshow above you will see a lovely white teapot crafted by a teacher at Plumstead. This was surely a "good and perfect gift," wouldn't you say?
UPDATE: Hot Air has video via Palin TV of Palin's answer to the school chancellor and Palin TV has a partial video of the Q&A.