Sarah Palin’s keynote address to National Tea Party Convention in Nashville was guaranteed to dominate the news cycle, marking the climax of months of increasing public exposure with any “everything-but” 2012 presidential campaign announcement. As usual, any substantial news was overshadowed by a minor political flap when the Huffington Post’s Stefan Sirucek discovered that Palin had “crib notes” scrawled across her hand--unwittingly revealed during a portion of her speech where she mocked President Obama's teleprompter use. Close-ups revealed the words "Energy", "Tax" and "Lift American Spirits" as well as "Budget cuts" with the word Budget crossed out. Liberal blog Think Progress even scored a video highlighting Palin checking out her notes during a choreographed Q&A:
Naturally, liberals and conservatives alike have jumped on the new political flashpoint. Andrew Sullivan equated the fact that by virtue of the fact that “she had to write on her hand her priorities as president” is proof that Palin “she remains a very potent, content-free and destructive force in American politics.” Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen summarizes the bulk of liberal outrage, chiding Palin for acting woefully unpresidential:
First, if Palin is going mock the president for using a teleprompter while giving speeches, it's probably not a good idea to act like an unprepared 14-year-old, scribbling answers to easy questions on her hand. It doesn't exactly scream "presidential material."
Second, that she wrote notes at all suggests Palin was aware of the questions in advance. She obviously couldn't prepare answers unless she knew what she'd be asked. If so, think about what that tells us about her readiness -- Sarah Palin was afraid questions from Tea Party activists might be too difficult.
However, conservative writers are pushing back, with Obama’s teleprompter again a more pressing concern to neutralize the impact of Palin’s notes. This time, conservatives take aim at hypocrisy from the left for mocking Palin’s need for messaging aids despite Obama’s own use excessive use.
- Too Classy To Use Your Hand? Founding Bloggers deride liberal elitism as Democrats rail against Palin’s notes while ignoring Obama’s prompter use: Democrats don’t mind that she needed a few notes for her speech. They’re upset that Sarah used her hand, proving once again that she is an unsophisticated hick. Everybody knows that whether you taking to sixth grade classroom, or talking dirty to the First Lady, using anything other than a presidential level teleprompter is simply pedestrian.
- Just The Usual Media Fodder Sister Toldjah sees fuel for the Mainstream Media: MSDNC, of course, is making that a focal point of Palin’s appearance as I write this. Well, all I can say to that is at least it wasn’t a teleprompter she was reading off of …
- This May Play To Palin’s Strengths writes the National Review’s Stephen Spruiell of the liberal attempts to make a “hand-gate” out of the situation: "Unlike the guy who needs a three thousand dollar teleprompter to get out of bed in the morning, Palin speaks from concise notes like everybody else. And, like other busy moms, she sometimes writes notes on her hand." The comeback is so obvious that, again, I really can't figure out why Palin's detractors are bringing this up at all.”
- No "Talk To The Hand" Jokes LA Times writer Michael McGough thinks Democrats run the risk of appearing to treat “ordinary Americans” with condescension: “Most of us need some help when we speak in public. ... In my adult public speaking, I have used a few notes, sometimes scribbled in my pocket diary. After I delivered a eulogy for a former colleague, the family flattered me by asking for a copy -- except there was no copy, just those indecipherable (to them) notes. I could have performed on that occasion without a crib sheet, and the same thing is probably true of Palin.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.