Astonishing. It was a fine convention speech--but, reading the text, no better than very good. What was just sensational, far exceeding my expectations, was the delivery. After the thrashing she has received from press and television in the past few days, knowing what was at stake for the party and for John McCain as she stood at the podium, with a good part of the nation watching and waiting for her to trip, her composure and self-assurance were simply amazing. Who could fail to be moved by this? And it was even more impressive than it looked, because the waves of adulation from the audience kept interrupting her momentum: they did not know it, but at times the audience was making it harder for her. Yet she never looked hesitant or thrown. She paused when she had to and controlled the timing. She actually seemed comfortable. If ever there were a political natural, we saw one tonight.
It was not a safe speech, though at the beginning, when she was talking mainly about McCain, I thought it was going to be. She had a pair of difficult acts to follow, because both Mike Huckabee and (especially) Rudi Giuliani gave terrific barnstorming speeches before she came on. (Let's not dwell on Mitt Romney's bizarre contribution.) She not only touched on her own biography, in ways sure to delight small-town Americans across the land, she also asserted her command, as the governor of an oil-producing state, of the energy debate. Had Democrats forgotten that this is a key issue in the election, and one on which they are trailing the Republicans in public opinion?