I will say, however, that I'm surprised to see this an explanation for the strangeness of Palin's speech:
The Republican Party’s most treasured rabble-rouser was forced to improvise part of her speech at a Tea Party conference in Iowa Saturday after her teleprompter apparently broke in the middle of her delivery.Funny, but I remember a time when we were told that Sarah Palin was such a great speaker that she didn't need a teleprompter.
It was 2008. Palin had just delivered her acceptance speech at the Republican convention -- a speech that wowed the crowd. She seemed to be a star in the making ... and then Erick Erickson told us that the speech was even more impressive than we realized:
BREAKING: Sarah Palin “Winged” Her Speech Because of “Broken” TeleprompterThe Drudge Report picked this up, and it momentarily became part of Palin's Cinderella legend.
Halfway through Sarah Palin’s speech tonight at the RNC, people following the speech noticed she was deviating from the prepared text.
According to sources close to the McCain campaign, the teleprompter continued scrolling during applause breaks. As a result, half way through the speech, the speech had scrolled significantly from where Governor Palin was in the speech....
Unfazed, Governor Palin continued, from memory....
Contrast this to Barack Obama who, when last his teleprompter malfunctioned, was left stuttering before a crowd unable to advance his speech until the problem was resolved.
Sarah Palin. Winner.
Except that it wasn't true, as Politico's Jonathan Martin noted:
The teleprompter did not breakRobert Schlesinger of U.S. News said there was, at most, a slight malfunction:
Sarah Palin delivered a powerful speech last night, but she did not "wing it."
... Perhaps there were moments where it scrolled slightly past her exact point in the speech. But I was sitting in the press section next to the stage, within easy eyeshot of the teleprompter. I frequently looked up at the machine, and there was no serious malfunction. A top convention planner confirms this morning that there were no major problems.
I too was sitting in the press section, (behind Palin and off to her right side). I had a clear view of the TelePrompTer, and read along with her.If you watch the video, you can actually see the prompter showing the words Palin is saying, at 21:57, 26:24, and 32:15:
At one point I noticed, and remarked to a colleague, that it would jog a line or two ahead of where she had paused. I noticed that she seemed to use the pause afforded by applause to glance down at the papers in front of her. Having found the missing line or two (it was not more than that), she would resume.
Certainly she managed the hiccups smoothly, but this is not an example of winging it in the same vein as a Truman, Kennedy, Nixon, or Clinton might have.
The press debunkings and the video evidence should have been the end of this nonsense. (Even Erickson's post is corrected in an update.) But days later, John McCain's brother Joe repeated the falsehood in Rupert Murdoch's Australian newspaper. So did right-wing blogger Don Surber. And Palin herself got into the act, saying, "The teleprompter got messed up, I couldn’t follow it, and I just decided I’d just talk to the people in front of me."
I'm sure there are right-wingers who still believe that Palin improvised that professionally crafted speech. The fact that her incoherence over the weekend is being blamed on improvisation would cause these people cognitive dissonance, if they were capable of thinking logically.
UPDATE, THURSDAY: Palin is still telling this tall tale herself. Here's what she said on Sean Hannity's show last night, in response to a question from Hannity about the Iowa speech:
“I’m used to teleprompters not working,” Palin said. “Remember at the GOP acceptance speech back in ’08? The teleprompter broke there, too. It didn’t work and I kept on going. So, no, I don’t know, I received a standing ovation throughout and at the end of the speech.”Yeah, whatever.