The new Sarah Palin: A 'uniter, not a divider'?

The controversial political celebrity surprises critics by cheering red and blue America in a weekend speech to Tea Partiers

Sarah Palin delivered a fierce rebuke of corruption and career politicians on Saturday, while also surprising critics by calling for a more united political system.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Jim Young)

In a much-anticipated Saturday speech to Tea Partiers in Iowa, Sarah Palin railed against President Obama and career politicians — an apparent dig at leading GOP presidential hopefuls Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Palin also trumpeted the Tea Party's anti-big-government message, but also maintained that "we're not celebrating red America, or blue America. We're celebrating red, white, and blue America." As she mulls a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, is Palin distancing herself from her divisive politics and reaching out to the center?

This is a new Sarah Palin: "For once, Palin attempted to speak as a uniter, not a divider," says Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic. Her past role as an "attack dog" for the Right won her a "fanatical following" with a narrow group of conservatives, but it also "made her very unpopular" with the rest of the country. Palin rose to power in Alaska as a "good-government reformer," and her focus on "crony capitalism" — as practiced by her rivals to on both sides of the aisle — gives the impression that she's making a "savvy" return to her roots.

"Is Sarah Palin returning to her roots?"

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But Palin has always fought against corruption: This weekend, "Palin rightfully trained most of her rhetorical fire on President Obama" says John Nolte at Big Government. But she also hammered Republicans in Washington's "permanent political class" for doling out taxpayers' hard-earned money to wealthy corporations. That's the same message that has always made Palin a favorite among fiscally responsible Americans who want to end the wasteful spending that is "killing our free market economy." Watch out, Washington.

"Root causes: In Iowa, Sarah Palin lays out a governing philosophy that should worry both sides of the aisle"

This is the same Palin that Americans love (or hate): Mama Grizzly hasn't changed, says Dave Weigel at Slate. She proved once again this weekend that she's still capable of riling up Tea Partiers and irritating liberals "like no one else." Plus, she's still not saying whether she's running for president, and still accusing the media of scheming to tear her down. This is the same combination — "conservative quasi-martyrdom, liberal obsession" — Palin has always used to ensure she "gets a national audience for everything she says."

"I'm still here"

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