There's a rule in playwriting, an old one but a good one: Don't put a gun on the stage in the first act unless it’s going to go off in the third. Well, if the healthcare reform battle were a play -- and it kind of is -- that rule meant there was no way it could end before we heard from Sarah Palin again.
On Friday, the former Alaska governor gave a speech to Wisconsin Right to Life at the state fairgrounds outside Milwaukee. Politico reports that 5,000 people showed up to the $30-per-ticket event.
Still, it seems like her remarks were maybe a bit uninspired. Never exactly known as a rhetorician, Palin leaned on words like “bogus” and “awesome” to communicate her points about healthcare reform and abortion. Said the ex-governor, “It is so bogus that society is sending a message right now and has been for probably the last 40 years that a woman isn’t strong enough or smart enough to be able to pursue an education, a career and her rights and still let her baby live.”
For the activists who imagine that they’re fighting a modern day Holocaust, hearing abortion labeled with a pallid “bogus” might not really qualify as red meat. But apparently, Palin can still deliver the goods. She seems to have gotten a mainly enthusiastic response from the crowd. (The event was closed to the press and all recording devices -- Martin and a few other reporters managed to sneak in.) One man was overheard fantasizing about marrying her; “Palin 2012” shirts seem to have been in evidence as well.
Of course, Palin isn’t counting on Wisconsin Right to Life to keep her profile up. She can do well enough herself. Over the weekend, she wrote two new posts on her Facebook profile. In one, she revived the “death panel” claim that she first gave life to months ago, warning readers to “look closely at the provision mandating bureaucratic panels that will be calling the shots regarding who will receive government health care.” In the other post, she disavows any responsibility for the closure of the Wisconsin event to press, and suggests CNN has mischaracterized the situation.
Obviously, we don’t know yet if she’s running for president in 2012. But if she does pull the trigger, she’s done a very good job positioning herself as the candidate of the Tea Party set. (Of course, that’s not necessarily the same thing as an overall strong position.)
In addition to fanning the flames of death panel paranoia -- hell, starting the fire, really -- Palin made some very Glenn Beck-inspired moves on Friday. She opened her comments with a weird digression on how the motto “In God We Trust” is being moved to the side of the new dollar coin.
“Who calls a shot like that? Who makes a decision like that? It’s a disturbing trend,” Palin said.
Apparently, in addition to closely echoing Beck’s preoccupation with the menacing implications of trivial symbolism, this comes straight from a right-wing email chain. (Also, the answer to “who calls a shot like that?” is “President George W. Bush and the Republican Congress.")
Palin closed her speech by urging, “Don't ever let anyone to tell you to sit down and shut up.” Glenn “You are not alone!” Beck, eat your heart out.