While Washington’s biggest names grace the stages at some of the most prestigious college commencement ceremonies this spring, tea party celebrity Sarah Palin addressed the graduating class of New Hope High School outside Huntsville, Ala. on Wednesday.
The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee began her keynote speech by acknowledging her husband Todd – also in attendance – and noting the similarities between Alabama and her home state of Alaska. Residents of both, she said, cling to “god, guns and the Constitution.” “The only difference,” she added, in a nod to her own folksy persona, “is you say ‘y’all’ and we say ‘you guys.‘ “While Palin sounded all the usual commencement clichés – encouraging the high school graduates to “Go forth and conquer, but don’t be afraid to fail” – she didn’t shy away from her adopted role of culture warrior, calling efforts to ban dodgeball and regulate Twinkies “over the top.” Palin took jabs at “scoreless games,” telling students they need competition, not tree-hugging or singing kumbaya. “Buck up or stay in the truck,” she advised.
Avoiding failure and competition, Palin suggested, is not the same thing as success. “When you get that call to run for Vice President of the United States, take it,” she said.
Palin also seemed to make a pot joke, at one point telling the teenage graduates “The best thing that ever happened to me – well it had to do with, years ago, 4/20. That’s April 20th, 1989 – that’s the 4/20.” That was the day she first became a mother, Palin added wryly. A later child, Trig, who was born with Down’s Syndrome, proved more difficult, Palin admitted. “But the best things in life are never easy,” she said, lightheartedly joking “My kid’s got more chromosomes than you!”
The Fox News contributor also took a shot at what she called political incorrectness, receiving a burst of applause as she told the assembled graduates to invoke their faith and “not be afraid to stand for what you believe in.”
“Congratulations, class of 2014, you give me new hope,” she said in closing. “You give the greatest country on earth, our America, real hope – not that ‘hopey changey’ stuff that they B.S. you with coming out of Washington – but real hope.”