Sarah Palin takes a Big Gulp at GOP establishment

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin holds up a 7-Eleven Super Big Gulp soda on stage at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National...
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin holds up a 7-Eleven Super Big Gulp soda on stage at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National...
Carolyn Kaster/AP

On the last day of the Conservative Political Action Conference, former Alaska governor, former vice presidential nominee, and Tea Party darling Sarah Palin had plenty of soundbites and zingers ready for fire.

“Background checks? Yeah, I guess to learn more about a person’s thinking and associations and intentions. More background checks? Dandy idea, Mr. President. Should have started with yours,” she said to rousing applause.

Her quip about ongoing dysfunction in Washington drew particularly surprised reactions.

“Remember ‘No Drama Obama’? If only. Now it’s ‘all drama Obama.’ We don’t have leadership coming out of Washington. We have reality television, except it’s really bad reality TV and the American people tuned out a long time ago.”

The remark is ironic considering Palin, who since resigning as Alaska’s governor in July, 2009, has been a Fox News contributor and starred in her very own reality show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, even appearing in episodes with reality TV queen Kate Gosselin.

She also likened the president to one of the most infamous ponzi schemers and white collar criminals. “He’s considered a good politician,” she said of Obama, “which is like saying Bernie Madoff was a good salesman. The difference being the president is using our money.”

She added, “Barack Obama, our most transparent administration ever? Barack Obama, you lie.” Cue hoots and hollers from the crowd.

Palin’s theatrical criticism didn’t stop with Obama. She made a few jabs at her fellow Republicans and emphasized that they should shift their focus away from Washington elites and toward everyday people.

“Even our guys in the GOP have a habit of reading their stage directions, especially these days. They’re being too scripted, too calculated, they talk about rebuilding the party. How about rebuilding the middle class?”

Palin seemed keenly aware of her role as an entertainer, stopping a few times to smile and sip from a “Big Gulp” drink, poking fun at New York City’s proposed soda ban. “Bloomberg’s not around,” she said. “Our Big Gulp’s safe.” Also ironically, Big Gulps were actually one of the sodas excluded from the ban.

The CPAC crowd was riveted by all 25 minutes of Palin, possibly more so than any other speech at the conference. She produced raucous applause and cheering laughter, but considering she’s no longer an elected official, a nominee, or even a Fox News political pundit, the relevance of her words carry significantly lower weight today.

“She was simply putting on a show, in my opinion, and she does it very well,” Republican strategist Susan Del Percio told msnbc’s Alex Witt. “She’s not where the party needs to go…She should have listened more closely to Jeb Bush yesterday, talking about that the party needs to stand for things and not just be against things and we don’t need just to take shots at our opposition.”

“You can count on Sarah Palin for some good, red meat, and that’s what we’re seeing at CPAC,” added The Hill’s Elise Viebeck. “In terms of the re-branding of the GOP, that isn’t what this event is about. This is about the faithful reminding themselves of what motivates them.”

Former Senate policy adviser Jimmy Williams explained a problem with that.

“The red meat has gone bad. It is rancid. It is no longer something that you would even buy at the grocery store. Her approval ratings are in the tank. No one cares about her,” he said. “She’s irrelevant to this process.”

You can watch Palin’s full CPAC speech here: