(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
I'm watching Sarah Palin address a campaign rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, live on Fox News, and I can't recall ever seeing a GOP rally like this. The crowd is genuinely pumped, which is rare enough. But what's particularly amazing is watching and listening to Gov. Palin. I can't recall ever seeing a politician who so clearly relishes campaigning. She's animated and enthused. I know she's speaking from a teleprompter, and she's probably delivered large chunks of this same speech before many times, but she's tuned in on every line.
She is simply infused with joy. And it flows off the stage, and it's picked up quite powerfully by the TV cameras.
On his best occasions, Reagan had this same quality, but it was more muted, more of a twinkle from behind his carefully maintained stage presence. With Gov. Palin, it's nearly continuous and much more obvious. And I think that's a big part of why she inspires the same harsh counter-reactions from political opponents that Reagan did — the same desperate need to ridicule and belittle, to delegitimize. (You'll see it in the comments to this post within minutes after it goes up, of course.) She has to be shouted down and scorned, because if people are allowed to listen to her, that damned joy might turn out to be ... contagious!
It's a quality that was almost entirely missing from the speeches of, for example, Hillary Clinton, who turned every speech into a siege and whose grim purpose was impressive but slightly scary. Bubba, however, could work himself into joy at the drop of a hat.
Sarah Palin is just haviing a grand old time. If she's afraid of looking foolish, or of her elitist critics, or of her ticket's chances on November 4th, then she's entirely suppressed those fears. I freely admit that with me as a listener, and probably most of the folks at this rally, she's preaching to the choir. But so, too, are lots of politicians, in most of their speeches. And they just don't come across with this same zest.
UPDATE (Tue Oct 14 @ 3:40 p.m. CST): One commenter below repeats the utter lie that at a recent rally, someone from the crowd — referring to Barack Obama — shouted "Kill him!" Not even the WaPo will make that stretch, and my blogospheric friends Patterico and Mary Katherine Ham have collected the full transcript and links to original reports of the circumstances which make plain that — yes, no surprise — this is another nasty attempt by the Obama crowd to smear Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain. (The context makes absolutely clear that the shout — which no one in the McCain-Palin campaign encouraged or defends! — was directed to the would-be cop killer and unrepentant terrorist whose name had just been used, Bill Ayers.)
UPDATE (Tue Oct 14 @ 10:00 p.m. CST): I was mistaken: The commenter below was referring to a newer alleged incident, one from today which purportedly occurred before Gov. Palin took the stage. To be clear: I don't condone anyone shouting "Kill him!" about anyone. I don't blame the candidates on either ticket for the outrageous conduct of some of their supporters. I wonder whether this newest shouter was an Obama supporter. But there has been at least 10 times the venom and hate spewed from the left in the direction of Gov. Palin in particular as has ever been spewed toward Sens. Obama or Biden, and the Dems who are trying to tag the GOP candidates for responsibility on this are shamelessly off base.
UPDATE (Thu Oct 16 @ 12:15 p.m. CST): My commenter's report has been disproved by the Secret Service and other law enforcement authorities who were at the Scranton rally, as I discuss in a new post, Reports of bloodthirsty McCain-Palin supporters are mostly exaggerated or simply false.
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