Sarah Palin could not have had a friendlier crowd than the one she spoke to at the Tea Party Convention at Opryland Saturday night. But friendly confines or not, she delivered the goods for the controversial $100,000 speakers fee she earned -- at least for the TV audience watching at home.

First of all, the fact that four cable channels (CNN, MSNBC, Fox and C-SPAN) gave her live coverage is a victory and testament to her power in and of itself. In that respect, she was a winner before she ever said a word.


But the words she did say in a 45-minute speech surely resonated beyond the hotel ballroom, particularly the words that focused frustration and anger against what she successfully painted as an arrogant, ineffectual and highly partisan Obama administration.

The forceful, yet colloquial tone that she so effectively sounded is best suggested by the line she threw down on the Democrats, "So, how's that hopey, changey stuff working out for you?"

She drew what I counted as a dozen standing ovations in the room, but I think her impact was even more powerful for folks watching at home as she addressed their fears of losing jobs and tore into President Obama and his team for their seeming indifference or inability to get the economy back on its feet.

As she chronicled a list of big spending initiatives with small results, including a skyrocketing stimulus tab with no ability to confirm the number of jobs created and a $25 million no-bid contract to a "big Democratic donor," she asked rhetorically, "Is that hope? Nope. That's same old, same old."

Beyond the economy and what she sees as a long list of national defense failures, one of her most direct hits on the White House came when she said that it was groups made up of people like those in the ballroom, not those in Washington, who create a climate of love and care for children "with special needs." And, she added, "I thank you for that."

While that might sound like the polarizing rhetoric she used on the campaign trail in 2008 as she talked about where "real Americans" reside, the crowd knew she was talking about Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff, who recently used a crude, coarse and ugly term that I will not repeat here to describe people with special needs. And I am sure some in the crowd who rose to their feet in applause at the line also remembered President Obama's ill-advised remarks about Special Olympics athletes made on Jay Leno's show. Twice suggests a mindset and culture within the White House that is not inclusive of that group -- despite all the apologies made afterward.

She also scored with a line addressed to C-SPAN saying that while the public affairs channel's cameras were denied access to the health care debate despite President Obama's campaign pledge, they were most "welcome" at the Tea Party convention.

Palin's speech was far from letter perfect. She stumbled a bit in the early going. She had trouble finding a rhythm at first. Once she said "Alaska" when she clearly meant to say "America" -- "If Alaska is still that beacon of hope...."

But by the end, she found her rhythm and a voice that crowd wanted to hear. Palin was throwing red meat before the Tea Party conventiongoers who paid $300 each to her speak, and they were eating it up Saturday night.

And based on what I saw on my TV, it sure looks like she is going to make big trouble for Team Obama in 2010 if she keeps making speeches like Saturday's on behalf of those running against the White House's candidates.