I'll say one thing for Sarah Palin. Unlike most pols, or, in her case, imitation pols, she manifestly rejects the aid of professional speechwriters; instead she marches to the heat of her own bummer of disorderly rhetoric, as evidenced yesterday at the Iowa Freedom Summit. As I tweeted after serendipitously catching her act live on C-Span, "Palin seems to think 'Iowa Freedom Summit' means freedom from a theme."
When I saw her being introduced by the Summit's co-organizer, Steve King, I prepared to take notes. Alas, Palin offered no thread to grab onto. She ricocheted from thoughts on her dog to Ronald Reagan to military veterans to the national debt to Obama's golfing to gun shows to Iowa's virtue to immigrants to constitutional conservatism to energy policy to Hillary's doom to Chris Kyle's heroism to the evil GOP establishment and, naturally, to seemingly endless references to her put-upon family. None of this collected gibberish was extemporaneous, however. Palin was speaking from notes, which someday may double as a public service exhibit on amphetamine abuse.
How did the Summit's audience react to Sarah's shtick? That was the one interesting part. I saw maybe a quarter, perhaps a third, certainly no more, clapping in response to Palin's stock ridicule and rambling. She threw slab after slab of raw red meat to the ultraconservative assemblage, who, on whole, yawned, as though they were done, done, done, I tell you, with this narcissistic harpy. An even worse injury came just after Palin's, uh, speech, when the other co-organizer, Citizen United's David Bossie, began introducing Rick Perry: "We saved the best for last," he said. Ouch.
All of which effectively amounted to Iowa's first straw poll of the GOP's proliferating slate of ill-fated crackpots. The day before her Summit appearance, and the day before that, Palin told the press that "You can absolutely say that I am seriously interested" in a presidential run. She was only being her usual insincere self, of course — trying to pre-puff her Iowa gig — but by and large the Summit audience was resolute in offering no encouragement, just in case Ms. Palin was being, for once, genuine.
Sadder yet? Her performance yesterday didn't even rate a Politico mention in its Summit recap. Now that's what you call an "existential threat," to one's fading fame.