Sarah Palin fed the Teapartisans in Nashville an appetizer of warmed over one-liners about taxes, spending and deficits that add up to "generational theft."
Then she gave the meat eaters what they paid for.
The star of the National Tea Party Convention demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder be bumped from his position.
She demanded White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel be bumped from his position.
She demanded Barack Obama should be bumped from his position.
She objected to Obama as a president and a person.
She talked tough about terrorists.
She objected to Obama and talked tough about terrorists at the same time.
She did not seem to recognize the irony inherent in her applause line about Obama and the so-called "war on terror": "To win that war, we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law."
While anyone who is familiar with Palin’s track record might be amused by the notion that a woman who quit her executive position as governor to write a fine Alaskan whine of a book would dare accuse someone else of falling short in the leadership department, the delegates to the National Tea Party Convention cheered on cue.
They got the message.
But she knows she wants to be seen as a commander-in-chief-in-waiting.
And that is exactly how the Tea Partisans saw her in Nashville.
In fact, they were so convinced that they shouted "Run, Sarah, Run!"
The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee’s seat-of-the-pants positioning of herself as a potential contender for the country’s top job is advancing to a new stage.
Palin left the echo chamber at Opryland and headed to the echo chamber that is Fox News for some Q&A. For once, she was frank about her ambitions.
Would she consider running for president in 2012?
"I think that it would be absurd not to consider (running in 2012)," she explained on "Fox News Sunday."
Indeed, Palin suggested, she will enter the race if she thinks it is "the right thing to do for the country."
That’s about as close to an announcement of candidacy as you can get without the actual tossing of a hat.
But then things got interesting.
Palin wouldn’t say whether she might run as a Republican or as the candidate of a new Tea Party Party.
She did, however, describe the Tea Partisans as "beautiful" and suggest that their movement is "quite reflective" of Republican values.
But then the woman who leads in at least some polls of potential Republican primary voters said that, like the Democrats, the Republicans "have both lost their way in some respects."
Confused? Don’t be. This is Sarah Palin, the woman who declared she was "not a quitter" as she quit as governor.
Precise language, like precise strategy, is not her forte.
Palin practices politics as spectacle.
The Tea Party convention was a good show.
But the real fireworks came in that Fox appearance.
Palin may not fully recognize what she has done — or maybe she does.
But wherever the line between Palin’s fantasies and political reality may be drawn, her "I’ll run if it’s the right thing to do for the country" line makes her more than a mere shouter from the sidelines. Palin is now moving front and center as a potential challenger to Obama.
That may scare Republicans, at least Republicans who worry about their party’s prospects in 2012, just as it may delight Democrats.
But the fact is that Palin owned the spotlight over the weekend. And no other Republican, no other conservative, is anywhere near the stage.