Camille Paglia on John McCain's choice for running mate, Sarah Palin:
“We may be seeing the first woman president. As a Democrat, I am reeling. That was the best political speech I have ever seen delivered by an American woman politician. Palin is as tough as nails.”
I have to agree that Palin's introductory speech was spectacular. No deer-in-the-headlights eyes. No cheerleader's empty-headedness. Ideas that appealed to conservatives and liberals. The grace of a leader.
McCain-Palin is going to be harder to beat than Obama-Biden expected.
Sarah Palin's Aug. 29, 2008, speech in Dayton, Ohio, was a relatively short one, but somehow it said a lot:
"Thank you so much.
"And I thank you, Senator McCain and Mrs. McCain, for the confidence that you have placed in me. Senator, I am honored to be chosen as your running mate. I will be honored to serve next to the next president of the United States.
"I know that when Senator McCain gave me this opportunity, he had a short list of highly qualified men and women, and to have made that list at all -- it was a privilege. And to have been chosen brings a great challenge. I know that it will demand the best that I have to give, and I promise nothing less.
"First, there are a few people whom I would like you to meet. I want to start with my husband, Todd. And Todd and I are actually celebrating our 20th anniversary today, and I promised him a little surprise for the anniversary present, and hopefully he knows that I did deliver.
"And then we have as -- after my husband, who is a lifelong commercial fisherman, lifetime Alaskan -- he's a production operator. Todd is a production operator in the oil fields up on Alaska's North Slope, and he's a proud member of the United Steelworkers Union, and he's a world champion snow machine racer. Todd and I met way back in high school, and I can tell you that he is still the man that I admire most in this world.
"Along the way, Todd and I have shared many blessings, and four out of five of them are here with us today. Our oldest son, Track, though, he'll be following the presidential campaign from afar. On September 11th of last year, our son enlisted in the United States Army. Track now serves in an infantry brigade. And on September 11th, Track will deploy to Iraq in the service of his country. And Todd and I are so proud of him and of all the fine men and women serving the country in uniform.
"Next to Todd is our daughter Bristol; another daughter, Willow; our youngest daughter, Piper; and over in their arms is our son Trig, a beautiful baby boy. He was born just in April. His name is Trig Paxson Van Palin.
"Some of life's greatest opportunities come unexpectedly, and this is certainly the case today. I never really set out to be involved in public affairs, much less to run for this office. My mom and dad both worked at the local elementary school. And my husband and I, we both grew up working with our hands.
"I was just your average 'hockey mom' in Alaska. We were busy raising our kids. I was serving as the team mom and coaching some basketball on the side. I got involved in the PTA and then was elected to the city council and then elected mayor of my hometown, where my agenda was to stop wasteful spending and cut property taxes and put the people first.
"I was then appointed ethics commissioner and chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and when I found corruption there, I fought it hard and I held the offenders to account. Along with fellow reformers in the great state of Alaska, as governor, I've stood up to the old politics as usual, to the special interests, to the lobbyists, the Big Oil companies and the 'good old boy' network.
"When oil and gas prices went up so dramatically and the state revenues followed with that increase, I sent a large share of that revenue directly back to the people of Alaska -- and we are now -- we're now embarking on a $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.
"I signed major ethics reforms, and I appointed both Democrats and independents to serve in my administration. And I've championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress thanks, but no thanks, on that "Bridge to Nowhere." If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we'd build it ourselves.
"Well, it's always, though, safer in politics to avoid risk, to just kind of go along with the status quo. But I didn't get into government to do the safe and easy things. A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why the ship is built. Politics isn't just a game of competing interests and clashing parties. The people of America expect us to seek public office and to serve for the right reasons. And the right reason is to challenge the status quo and to serve the common good.
"Now, no one expects us to agree on everything, whether in Juneau or in Washington. But we are expected to govern with integrity and good will and clear convictions and a servant's heart.
"Now, no leader in America has shown these qualities so clearly or presents so clear a threat to business as usual in Washington as Senator John S. McCain. This -- this is a moment when principles and political independence matter a lot more than just the party line. And this is a man who has always been there to serve his country, not just his party.
"And this is a moment that requires resolve and toughness and strength of heart in the American president. And my running mate is a man who has shown those qualities in the darkest of places and in the service of his country. A colleague once said about Senator McCain: That man did things for this country that few people could go through; never forget that. And that speaker was former Senator John Glenn of Ohio. And John Glenn knows something about heroism.
"And I'm going to make sure nobody does forget that in his campaign. There is only one candidate who has truly fought for America, and that man is John McCain.
"This is a moment -- this is a moment when great causes can be won and great threats overcome, depending on the judgment of our next president. In a dangerous world, it is John McCain who will lead America's friends and allies in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"It was John McCain who cautioned long ago about the harm that Russian aggression could do to Georgia and to other small Democratic neighbors and to the world oil markets.
"It was Senator McCain who refused to hedge his support for our troops in Iraq, regardless of the political costs. And you know what? As the mother of one of those troops and as the commander of Alaska's National Guard, that's the kind of man I want as our commander in chief.
"Profiles in courage, they can be hard to come by these days. You know, so often we just find them in books. But next week when we nominate John McCain for president, we're putting one on the ballot!
"To serve as vice president beside such a man would be the privilege of a lifetime, and it's fitting that this trust has been given to me 88 years almost to the day after the women of America first gained the right to vote.
"I think as well today of two other women who came before me in national elections. I can't begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and, of course, Senator Hillary Clinton, who showed such determination and grace in her presidential campaign.
"It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.
"So for my part, the mission is clear. The next 67 days I'm going to take our campaign to every part of our country and our message of reform to every voter of every background, in every political party, or no party at all. If you want change in Washington, if you hope for a better America, then we're asking for your vote on the 4th of November.
"My fellow Americans, come join our cause. Join our cause and help our country to elect a great man the next president of the United States. And I thank you, and I -- God bless you, I say, and God bless America. Thank you."
See also: Video of the speech.