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MAD HATTER: Sarah In Wonderland

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[Illustration by ALEX FINE]

ANDREW SULLIVAN: There is no question in my mind that Palin is the leader of the opposition in this country. And there is no question in my mind that she is the leader of the Tea Party movement. Listening to her completely content-free rehash of every Fox News truism, underlined with the classic claim that Obama is on the side of the terrorists and is incapable of being commander-in-chief. Cheneyism is behind her. MORE

WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT: Nodding at the much-discussed question of whether this speech would make Palin the “leader” of the Tea Party movement, she said that the activists did not have a “king or queen.” At the same time, she called for “contested primaries,” calling them a strength of democracy — nodding at her fairly controversial endorsements of Hoffman and Rand Paul. Palin swung quickly and heavily to foreign policy, with a litany of attacks on Obama — from his “personality”-based diplomacy to giving “Constitutional rights” to “homicide bombers,” using a term that’s rarely heard outside of Fox News, where she is a contributor. When she moved back to domestic policy, Palin delved again and again into stories that are familiar to political junkies and Tea Party activists. “How’s that hopey-changey thing working out for ya?” said Palin, paraphrasing a slogan made popular aliceteaparty.jpgon Tea Party t-shirts.” She mocked the stimulus package — the speech was heavy on mockery — by leaning slightly down and saying “nobody messes with Joe,” quoting a comment President Obama made that has been more or less forgotten outside of Tea Party circles. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: Without leaving home, Sarah Palin will be able to reach much of her political base, courtesy of a soon-to-be-built television studio in her living room paid for by her newest media patron, Fox News. From her house in Wasilla, Alaska, Ms. Palin also sends missives to 1.3 million Facebook “fans,” writes newspaper columns, Tweets and signs copies of her book for donors. She reads daily e-mail briefings on domestic and foreign policy from a small group of advisers who remained loyal after her tumultuous vice presidential campaign in 2008. And though she has fashioned an image as an antiestablishment conservative, she also speaks regularly to a bipartisan nobility of Washington insiders who have helped enrich her financially and position her on the national political stage. Ms. Palin is becoming increasingly vocal and visible, with a series of events scheduled this weekend: delivering a paid speech to the Salina, Kan., Chamber of Commerce on Friday night, headlining a national Tea Party convention in Nashville on Saturday and appearing on behalf of the re-election campaign of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas in Houston on Sunday. This latest foray “Outside” (Alaskan slang for the rest of the country) culminates a week in which she achieved a typical run of multimedia ubiquity from Wasilla: She e-mailed a high-profile endorsement of Dr. Rand Paul in a Republican Senate primary in Kentucky. She called — via Facebook — for the resignation of the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, for using the term “retarded,” and announced — via a column in USA Today — that she would attend a Tea Party gathering next month in Searchlight, Nev., the hometown of the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid. MORE

palinhandclose.jpgHUFFINGTON POST: Crib Notes? This potential presidential candidate and “movement” leader was using crib notes to answer basic questions? This would mean: A) That she knew the questions beforehand and the whole thing was a farce. (Likely.) B) That she still couldn’t answer the previously agreed-upon questions without a little extra help. If true, this is supremely rich coming immediately after a speech in which Palin took a shot at President Obama for using a teleprompter to read his prepared speeches. You can bet that the President wasn’t reading scribbles off his extremities while he sparred with Republicans and Democrats in an unscripted format in his recent Q&As.Palin, on the other hand, seems to need a cheat-sheet just to get through a contrived lovefest with a smitten interviewer and an adoring audience.

WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT: NASHVILLE — The National Tea Party Convention’s early reluctance to give credentials to reporters — a decision that came after some negative commentary on the event’s cost and critics — was short-lived. Reporters are swarming the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and, with little exception, getting press passes. When I checked it around 11 a.m., more than 150 reporters had been credentialed. While there are around 600 paying attendees, the scene in the hall outside of the banquet and meeting rooms is basically one-to-one reporter-to-attendee. Inside the breakout i_am_not_a_crook_l.jpgsessions, at least three cameras are filming at any one time. One of the credentialed reporters is no less than Joseph Basel, one of the four activists who was arrested — and let out on bail — for the mysterious botched sting of Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) office. “I’m here for myself,” Basel told me, after chatting with Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit and Andrew Breitbart of Big Government. MORE

TALKING POINTS MEMO: Landrieu phone-tampering defendant Joseph Basel isn’t letting a little thing like felony charges hang over his head and prevent him from achieving professional goals. With a week until he’s due in federal court in New Orleans for a Feb. 12 hearing, Basel has been spotted at the national tea party convention in Nashville by the Washington Independent‘s Dave Weigel. Weigel reports that Basel is at the convention as a credential reporter though he says that he’s “here for myself.” Basel was ordered by the judge in the Landrieu case to stay in his home state of Minnesota. He is allowed to travel only with the permission of his pretrial supervision officer, according to the conditions of his release on $10,000 bond. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: ‘Pimp’ From ACORN Sting Videos Arrested By FBI For Wiretapping Senator’s Phone

PREVIOUSLY: Last Night I Sneaked Into The Tea Party

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