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Geoffrey Dunn

Geoffrey Dunn

Posted: June 6, 2009 09:52 PM

Palin Lifts From Gingrich in Anchorage Speech


Sarah Palin's speech delivered in Anchorage on Wednesday -- the one in which she declared "screw political correctness" and wondered why "we have to pussyfoot around our troublesome foes" -- repeatedly lifted from an article written four years ago by Newt Gingrich and Craig Shirley without attribution.

While Palin twice mentioned Gingrich in the speech (she never acknowledged Shirley), she frequently mixed her own remarks about Reagan with passages that appear to be pulled directly from the Gingrich-Shirley article.

A little background: Palin was on the stage at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts to introduce Michael Reagan, the conservative talk show host and son of the former president, Ronald Reagan. Her introduction lasted about 17 minutes and has already garnered significant national attention.

The indomitable AK Muckraker of The Mudflats undertook the near impossible task of transcribing most of Palin's address (my wife filled in on a couple of spots as well), and after slogging through the muck of verbiage while listening to a recording of the speech, I realized I had read some of this before. So I tracked down the original Gingrich-Shirley article, "Republicans Need to Relearn Lessons of the Reagan Revolution" which appeared in the Union Leader, November 1, 2005, and is also online.

During her speech in Anchorage, Palin went through her standard introductions, including the "First Dude," Todd Palin. You can now view it at HuffPo. This first excerpt appears to echo the Gingrich/Shirley article but doesn't lift from it directly.

Palin: First, I think what we're going to learn tonight via Michael is that Ronald Reagan's ideas were the right ideas and all we have to do is look back at his record, his economic record and his national security record to know that his ideas were right.


Gingrich/Shirley: What should Americans learn from this remarkable man and his remarkable Presidency?...The "right" ideas really matter (the left was wrong and Reagan was right about virtually every major public policy issue and the historic record is clear for those willing to look at it).

After that, Palin acknowledged that, "Recently, Newt Gingrich, he had written a good article about Reagan...." (Recently? It was four years ago.) Without mentioning Shirley, she quotes and paraphrases from the article at length:

Palin: He said, regarding your dad Michael, he said that we need to learn from his example that courage and persistence are keys to historic achievement and with Reagan's example, D.C. politicians calling the shots for our country, they had better rely on the good sense of the American people and bag their alliance [sic] on the entrenched bureaucrats and the elite self-proclaimed intellectuals, and the smug lobbyists who dominate Washington, and the liberal media that is imposing its will on Washington, embracing that status quo, that business as usual..


Gingrich/Shirley: Courage and persistence are the keys to historic achievement. ... Relying on the good sense of the American people beats relying on the elite intellectuals, entrenched bureaucrats and smug lobbyists who dominate Washington.

At this point, things get very problematic. Palin continued on with her speech, using her own words while seamlessly quoting almost verbatim from the Gingrich/Shirley piece, multiple times, without citing it.

Palin: We have to remember first that Ronald Reagan never won any arguments in Washington. He won the arguments by resonating with the American people.


Gingrich/Shirley: Reagan never won an argument in Washington. Reagan won his arguments in the country with the American people.

* * *
Palin: So Ronald Reagan spoke to us then with us here in our hearts is where he reached us.... He captured our hearts so he could affect positive change by what he did. He focused on our kids, on our children, on their future, on the future of America.


Gingrich/Shirley: The key to capturing the attention and, yes, the hearts of Americans is to focus on their future and their children's future. Reagan understood this...

* * *
Palin: We would do so well to look back on those Reagan years as he championed the cause for freedom and then he lived it out as our president -- cheerfully, persistently and unapologetically.


Gingrich/Shirley: Cheerful persistence rather than easy victories were the keys to Reagan's career.

* * *
Palin: Reagan knew that real change [sic] -- and real change requiring shaking things up and maybe takin' off the entrenched interest thwarting the will of the people...


Gingrich/Shirley: Reaganism is about real change both at home and overseas and that real change requires upsetting the entrenched interests...

* * *
Palin: He stood strong on his knowing that the framework through which he believed that positive change that framework for our kids, it was freedom [sic].


Gingrich/Shirley: Successful governance means having a framework through which to lead the American people. For Reagan, that framework was freedom.

At this point, Palin offered her second (and final) reference to the article that Gingrich and Shirley wrote. She said: "What Newt had written in this article, he wrote, remember how refreshing it was with his outrageous directness that Americans loved, and praised and deserved."

But that quote isn't actually in the article -- and isn't from any other Gingrich article available on the Internet. The closest quote she may be referencing is:

Gingrich/Shirley: Candidate Ronald Reagan responded to the failures of the left with enormous clarity and directness.

Palin continued:

Palin: Remember this? His vision for the Cold War? We win, they lose.


Gingrich/Shirley: On the inevitability of the Soviet Union, Reagan responded with a then shocking vision for the Cold War -- "we win, they lose."

* * *
Palin: And with detente, speaking of detente, he used two words: "Evil Empire."


Gingrich/Shirley: Reagan replaced the entire vision of detente with two vivid words: "Evil Empire."

Palin then segued off the beloved Gipper, and shifted back to what has become her favorite subject these days: the embattled Sarah Palin.

That portion of the speech she didn't take from Gingrich, who, when asked to name the "emerging leaders" in the GOP this past April in an interview with Christianity Today, refused to name Palin, wondering instead when pressed: "Is she willing to do the kind of development of national issues and development of a national profile that would be required?....[B]ecoming a national leader would take a significant amount of work."

This may not have reflected the "significant amount of work" that Gingrich had in mind.

Award-winning investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Geoffrey Dunn is at work on a book about Sarah Palin and her role in American politics, to be published by Macmillan/St. Martin's in 2010.

Ed. note: this piece was edited after its initial publication.