Paul Greenberg

The featured speaker at last week's event seemed in favor it, too. Or as she would put it later, "We need to spend more time supporting our allies instead of appeasing our enemies." It was one of her numerous applause lines, and, boy, could this crowd applaud. Also cheer, yell, hoot and holler.

But first came the opening ceremonies, which went on satisfyingly forever. There was the old-time music given a new political spin, followed by the Formal Welcome, the Invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, and then a Patriotic Tribute. At some point we sang God Bless America, or was it America the Beautiful, or both? It all melded.

I love that kind of thing, especially when I realized it had been exactly 89 years and 6 days since my mother, then a feisty 19-year-old traveling alone, stepped ashore at the Port of Boston on February 10, 1921, wiped the dust of Europe off her feet, and never looked back at the Old World -- except with immense relief to have done with it. America the Beautiful indeed. What a fine celebration the evening was.

Oh, yes, Sarah Palin also spoke. After she'd been presented with a souvenir of Arkansas -- a .44 magnum. Welcome, Miss Sarah, to another part of the country where folks hold on to their religion and their guns. The former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, should have been right at home, and certainly acted like it.

The lady not only knew where she was but, more important, like Rose in the movie "Moonstruck," knows who she is. And makes no apologies for it. That's something else her oh-so-superior critics can't stand. Other politicians are so sophisticated, flexible, plastic, nuanced ... that they seem to have no backbone at all. Sarah Palin is always Sarah Palin.

If she weren't an Alaskan, she'd make a heckuvan Arkansan. The accent -- a kind of Far, Far North Side Chicagoan, or maybe Minnesotan extended to the Arctic Circle -- has come to sound almost homey by now. Comfortable, assuring. Maybe because she dares to say what so many are feeling, especially after Year One of the Obama Era, aka the Continuing Crack-Up. She didn't say anything new, and didn't have to. All she had to do was channel the feeling out there in the arena. Which she did.

A combination of Aimee Semple McPherson and Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin is certain to have a political niche in American life, but maybe only a niche. We'll see.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.