|Sarah Palin illustration: Edward Sorel|
Backstage in the arena, a little girl in Mary Janes pushes her brother in a baby carriage, stopping a few yards shy of a heavy, 100-foot-long black curtain. The curtain splits the arena in two, shielding the children from an audience of 4,000 people clapping their hands in time to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The music accompanies a video “Salute to Military Heroes” that plays above the stage where, in a few moments, the children’s mother will appear.
When the girl, Piper Palin, turns around, she sees her parents thronged by admirers, and the crowd rolling toward her and the baby, her brother Trig, born with Down syndrome in 2008. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, bend down and give a moment to the children; a woman, perhaps a nanny, whisks the boy away; and Todd hands Sarah her speech and walks her to the stage. He pokes the air with one finger. She mimes the gesture, whips around, strides on four-inch heels to stage center, and turns it on.
And how. Palin and the crowd might as well be one. She’s glad to be here with the people of Independence, Missouri, “where so many of you proudly cling to your guns and your religion”—the first laughline in a 40-minute stump speech that alludes to many of the perceived insults she and her audience have suffered together, and that transforms their resentments into badges of honor. Palin waves her scribbled-on palm to the crowd, proclaiming that she’s using “the poor man’s teleprompter.” Of the Obama administration, she says,
“They talk down to us. Especially here in the heartland. Oh, man. They think that, if we were just smart enough, we’d be able to understand their policies. And I so want to tell ’em, and I do tell ’em, Oh, we’re plenty smart, oh yeah—we know what’s goin’ on. And we don’t like what’s goin’ on. And we’re not gonna let them tell us to sit down and shut up.”
(Click here to read the full story on the Vanity Fair website.)