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RUSH: On PBS coverage of the Republican National Convention, speechwriter and historian Richard Norton Smith had this to say about the Sarah Palin speech.

SMITH: This will be a huge hit among Rush Limbaugh Republicans. It will be fascinating to know if this plays as well among particularly independent voters out there who are watching this convention, to find out not only what this party is against — we heard a lot about that tonight — but what they’re for.

RUSH: David Brooks of the New York Times, who earlier this week opened a column in the New York Times by declaring that I am not an idiot, then had this to say in response to that comment, a question from Jim Lehrer. ‘Do you think that they’ll have some impact on people who were wavering one way or another?’

BROOKS: I didn’t think this was a Rush Limbaugh speech at all. One of the great lines I thought she had was being a mayor of this town is like being a community organizer with responsibilities. That’s not the Rush Limbaugh type of humor. It’s a much more personal ‘I’m just regular folks’ kind of humor than the biting, belittling Rush Limbaugh type of humor. There were no social issues as far as I could tell, there’s no character — or no cultural war issues. She was tough and partisan in a political sense, but I didn’t think she was tough in a culture sense the way Limbaugh is.

RUSH: Biting, belittling humor from the New York Times conservative columnist, David Brooks. My humor is biting and belittling. I’m not so sure he’s right about there’s no culture war. I think the culture war is probably back. I think because of her speech last night there is a vestige of the culture war that has been revived here. Richard Norton Smith said the question is going to be, ‘Will this speech appeal just beyond the Republican base?’ Last night, Charles Krauthammer said, ‘This is going to go way beyond the base. Her appeal is way beyond the base.’ Sarah Palin is Sarah Palin, she’s who she is and she’s great, she’s unique because we don’t see a woman like her in politics, but we see Sarah Palin’s all over the country. There are Sarah Palins in every neighborhood and in every town in this country with their families and taking care of the kids and so forth, and they’re not rock stars, and they’re alternately called soccer moms, hockey moms or whatever. But I mean she’s an ordinary woman who’s done extraordinary things, she, I think, relates to all kinds of American women and mothers, and inspires them, too. I don’t think the Democrats still, they know they’ve been hit, they know they’ve got a lot to fear today, but I still don’t think they quite understand just how hard they have been hit. Evidence for that is they don’t know how to deal with this.

Their traditional way of dealing with people like Sarah Palin is destroy them, clear the playing field with them. They’ve tried that, and she fights back. They can’t destroy people in the arena of ideas because they don’t want to talk about ideas. I think the next thing they’re going to rely on is what Jonathan Alter mentioned and that is the press is going to try to just berate her and belittle her and ask her all kinds of esoteric questions: Who is the third Marine captain of the 4th Batallion of the All-American Amazon Cavalry Battalion in Zirkistan? You know, stupid little questions like that. Do you know what the Saharan subcontinent or the African subcontinent or the Indian subcontinent is? These guys are going to try all these things, and they’re going to be stunned at how much she knows and how much her experience is translated into knowledge. Look, this is the best way to say it. You put a bag of manure on the ground, and the Democrats will eventually find it and step in it. (interruption) Sarah Palin? That’s a good question. I wonder if she knows how many states there are. Obama thinks there’s 57 or 58, but he hasn’t been to all of them. He might be confusing his Muslim upbringing because there are 57 something or others, Alaska will make 59. You know, so we’ll keep a sharp eye. I think she’ll be able to identify all 58 or 59 states.

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