Opinion: Sarah Palin speech: The view’s better from inside the bus than under it (Updated with text)


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(UPDATE: The full text of the Palin Gridiron speech has been added below.)

The lines began forming Saturday morning outside the Sioux Falls Barnes & Noble bookstore, fully 35 hours before former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was to arrive there to sign her new book, ‘Going Rogue.’

But the mother of five was far from South Dakota tonight. In fact, she was only about a half-dozen blocks from the White House that she didn’t help John McCain win.

Palin appeared in a brand-new role for the possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate -- joke-teller as the GOP’s representative at the annual winter Gridiron Dinner, a 124-year-old group of Washington writers and guests who hold such regular opportunities for political writers to mingle with the power people who really matter.


Speakers there -- past ones have included someone named Barack Obama -- are intentionally funny -- or trying to be, anyway -- and usually off the record.

But an exception allowing news coverage was made tonight given the intense interest in Palin, who attracted about twice the usual dinner crowd.

And she appeared to succeed better than her Democratic counterpart, Rep. Barney Frank. It was a refreshingly different look at Palin, who’s more often quoted as a media scold and harsh critic of what’s-his-name in the White House.

Palin, whose intelligence has been widely challenged by many in her audience, said she....

...was pleased to appear before an elite audience of intellectual heavyweights: ‘Or as I like to call it, a death panel.’

If the 2008 presidential election had turned out differently, Palin deadpanned, ‘I could be the one overseeing the signing of bailout checks and Vice President Biden could be on the road selling his book, ‘Going Rogaine.’'

Yup, she really said that about the nation’s highest-ranking user of hairplugs.

Palin recounted that she was looking at a magazine cover of Obama and Chinese president Hu Jintao during a recent airplane flight. According to Palin, a nearby passenger said, ‘Hu’s the Communist.’


‘I thought he was asking a question.'Palin will resume her book promotion bus tour tomorrow, but first she said, ‘The view is so much better from inside the bus than under it.’

Palin revealed she actually considered a different title for her best-selling book: ‘How to Look Like a Million Bucks for Only $150,000.’

She also took a shot at John McCain’s former campaign manager, who’s taken his shots at her. ‘If I need a bald campaign manager,’ she quipped, ‘I guess I’m left with James Carville.’

Palin also noted that as she walked to the banquet hall from her hotel room ‘I could see the Russian Embassy.’

Frank, on the other hand, was on the other hand.

He made fun of the new social media tool Twitter and especially a fellow Democratic colleague famous for her frequent use of the communications tool with constituents. ‘Maybe I lack intellectual curiosity,’ Frank said, ‘but I’m not that interested in what Claire McCaskill has for lunch.’

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Text of Remarks by ex-Gov. Sarah Palin to the Gridiron Club, Dec. 5, 2009:

Good evening. It’s great to be in Washington and I am loving the weather.

I braved the elements and went out for a jog! Or, as Newsweek calls it, a cover-shoot.

It’s a privilege to be here tonight at the Washington DC Barnes & Noble. Tonight, I’ll be reading excerpts from my new book. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? “Going Rogue”

Yukon wasn’t sure if I’d go with that title and somebody suggested I follow the East Coast selfhelp trend and go with, “How To Look Like A Million Bucks…For Only 150 Grand.”

Todd liked, “The Audacity of North Slope.”

Hey, I considered not having a title at all.

I’ve said it before, but you Beltway types just don’t seem to get it. You don’t need a title to make an impact. But anyway, let’s get started. I’ll begin my first reading on Page 209.

It was pitch black when we touched down in Arizona late on August 27, 2008. The next morning we drove to John McCain’s ranch in Sedona. John was waiting on the porch. Before he can say a word, I tell him, I’m quoting now:

I know why I’m here, and I’m ready. But, I’m worried. The cost of credit protection for the largest U.S. banks is rising precipitously. Have you given any thought to the run on the entities in the parallel banking system? Do you realize the vulnerability created when these institutions borrow short term in liquid markets to invest long
term in illiquid assets?

John said, “You betcha!”

I thought, “You betcha?”

Who talks that way?

Well, sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. When you don’t, you end up in places like this.

Who would have guessed that I’d be palling around with this group? At least now I can put a face to all the newspapers I read.

It is good to be here and in front of this audience of leading journalists and intellectuals. Or, as I call it, a death panel.

To be honest, I had some serious reservations about coming to visit your cozy little club. The Gridiron still hasn’t offered membership to anyone from my hometown paper in Wasilla, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley Frontiersman.

And my dad thought it was just a plain bad idea to leave the book tour for some football game. He might have a point!

I’ve been touring this great, great land of ours over the last few weeks. I have to say, the view is much better from inside the bus, than under it!

But really, I am thrilled to be with you. And I’d like to thank the Gridiron for the invitation and Dick Cooper for his introduction.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, this has to be the most extraordinary collection of people who have gathered to viciously attack me since the last corporate gathering at CBS.

Despite what you have read, or more likely, despite what you have written, I do feel a real bond with all of you. I studied journalism, earned a communications degree and for a time only wanted to be a journalist. I was even a television sportscaster back home.

I’m guessing some of you probably got your start the exact same way… once there was television.

Let me get back to the book. I know that many of you are still upset because I wouldn’t play that silly Washington game. You know, the one where all of you read a book in its entirety, from the first page of the index to the last.

But think about it, because you actually had to read the whole book in the vein hope of finding your name, you now know all about Denali, mom, dad, ungulate eyeballs, slaying salmon on the Nushagak and Ugashik near Alegnigak, where we make AGOOTAK and moose chili! You’re welcome.

Still, I want to do something very special for this audience of Washington elite. So, I’ll read from the index--which I chose not to include in the hardback. Would you believe me if I said I didn’t include it because we wanted to save trees?

Under A we have…

Alaska, media not understanding. Pages 1-432.

Under B…

Biased media. Pages 1-432

And under C…

Conservative media. See acknowledgments.

I’ll stop there.

I know this can be a long night, and as I understand it, we’re going to break with a Gridiron tradition. Normally, the Democrat speaker would deliver a speech after me. But instead, John McCain’s campaign staff asked if they could use that time for a rebuttal.

A lot has been made of a few campaign relationships. The closeness. The warm fuzzy feelings. John and I both agree all those staffers should just move past it. It’s history.

Let’s just say, if I ever need a bald campaign manager, it appears all I’m left with is James Carville.

I don’t want to say that I’ve burned a bridge, but I know all about cancelling a bridge to nowhere.

That Democrat speaker I referred to is, of course, the one-and-only Barney Frank.

And I’m the controversial one?

Barney, the nation owes you and the government a debt. A huge, historic, unbelievable debt. But, it’s good to be here with you, Mr. Chairman.

Because by Chairman, I don’t just mean the House Financial Services Committee. As far as I can tell, Barney’s also the Chair of AIG, CITI, and the Bank of America.

I don’t want to say that the U.S. Government is taking over the role of the private sector, but I have to admit, on the flight here, thumbing through a magazine and looking at a photo of President Obama with the President of China, the person next to me pointed at it and said, “Hu’s a communist.”

I thought they were asking a question.

Still, when I see this administration in action, I can’t help think of what might have been. I could be the Vice President overseeing the signing of bailout checks. And Joe Biden would be on the road, selling his new book, ‘Going Rogaine.’

Speaking of books….

Did I mention mine? “Going Rogue”

Makes a great stocking stuffer. Available now at a bookstore near you.

Hey, I have to pay for my campaign vetting bill somehow.

Really, the response has been great. So I’ll close by reading a final passage. Page 403:

I’ve been asked a lot lately, “Where are you going next?’

Good question!

Wherever I go I know that, as with anyone in the public eye, I’ll continue to have my share of disagreements with those in the media. Maybe even more than my share. It will come as no surprise that I don’t think I was always treated fairly, or equally.

But despite that, I respect the media very much. It’s important. A free press allows for vigorous debate! And that debate is absolutely vital for our democracy.

So as hard as it can sometimes be, we must all look past personal grievances. We must move beyond petty politics. And we must allow these incredibly talented and hard-working women and men to ask the hard questions and hold us, and our government, accountable.

Because their mission is as true as the sun rising over the Talkeetna and Susitna Mountains. OK – so none of that is actually in the book. Not a word. But I do believe it!

And I believe we live in a beautiful country blessed with so many different people who want the best for their children, families and for our great nation. I’m so proud to be an American.

And that is what I’ll be talking about when I travel to, really where I’m headed. No better place than here to announce where I’m going. I’m going to Iowa!

I’ll be there tomorrow from noon to 3:00 pm at the Barnes & Noble on Sergeant Road in Sioux City. Come early. Long lines are expected.

Thank you everyone. God Bless the U.S.A! ###