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Opinion

Palin into insignificance

Whether or not former governor of Alaska and sometime vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s speech at the CLSA investors’ forum on September 23 was a hit with the audience – and opinions are divided – there’s little doubt that both she and her hosts did well from the event. Palin’s speaker fee was undisclosed but is likely to have been substantial; CLSA, meanwhile, adopted a media-unfriendly strategy that ended up winning it plenty of attention and all-important coverage of the event. Media sources, hoping for one of Palin’s trademark gaffes, were frustrated by CLSA’s policy of holding the session behind closed doors. Of course in the modern era absolute secrecy was unlikely (and probably unwanted by the media-savvy CLSA). Almost as soon as Palin’s speech began, audience members began sending their thoughts to social networking site Twitter; within hours of the speech’s conclusion they and business newswires were posting substantial excerpts online.

So what was the verdict? After all the speculation as to what Palin was earning, whether she’d seem ill-informed, and whether the whole thing might end in disaster, the consensus view seems to be that the speech was the one thing few had predicted beforehand: boring! Euromoney’s sources report that Palin spoke at length on US domestic policy, the healthcare debate and Obama’s controversial tariff on Chinese car tyres, before a section on the financial crisis in which she blamed the whole thing (not without some justification) on the interventionist activities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

People began walking out in substantial numbers well before the end of the speech, a mole tells us, but those hoping for verbal clangers of the sort that bedevilled her vice-presidential campaign were disappointed by an apparently articulate, playing-it-safe Palin.

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