Live from RNC: Sarah Palin Makes History

Sometime is this line of work you wander into history in the making. There are days in which nothing inspiring, interesting, or fun happens covering a political campaign. Last night was not one of those times.

I was inside the Xcel Center yesterday evening for actually two remarkable events. The first was the reaffirmation that Rudy Giuliani is the great non-candidate speechmaker in America. His presidential aspirations went strangely awry last year for reasons not altogether clear, but last night he did what he did best. Like a prize fighter he weaved  -- weaved jokes, humor, and biting argument -- and bobbed with schoolboy-like glee. Politics, we forget, is supposed to be fun. And Rudy’s speech was that and more.

Stylistically and substantively it was an exceptionally deft speech. He used humor to decimate the premise of Barack Obama’s campaign: that someone who has accomplished nothing of note in public life, and whose judgment on foreign policy has proved unsteady, nevertheless can be trusted with the presidency. Inside the Xcel center the crowd played along, screaming with delight and throwing their heads back with shock. "Did he say that!" "Oh my—I can’t believe he went there!" That’s what delighted partisans whispered and indeed shouted to each other. Clearly he is destined to spend the next 60 days on the campaign trail.

But that was not the main event. Sarah Palin had that honor. The buildup to that -- to the campaign speech of the new millennium, I would argue -- was vital to its success. For several days the MSM whacked her like a piñata. She was a hick, she was unvetted, she had no political skills, she added nothing to the ticket, no one cares that she is a woman -- and on it went. That all ensured that hers was the most important speech of any of the four candidates on the presidential ticket. And indeed the Xcel Center buzzed with nervous excitement and anticipation all day.

But nothing really could have prepared the crowd for what they saw. She began with a tentative smile, but the crowd was anything but tentative. After days of siege by the mainstream media, the assembled delegates greeted her and her declaration of acceptance of the VP nomination with thunderous cheers and with a sense of heavy defiance. "We adore you" was the message. But that love affair was just the beginning.