It was all quite petty, and yet the complaining took half of Palin’s allotted time. She then proceeded to blow through her time limit with a free-association ramble on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the energy industry, her daughter Bristol, Margaret Thatcher, middle-class economics — “the man can only ride ya when your back is bent” — women in politics, and much more. It would be hard to say that Palin’s 35-minute talk had a theme, but she did hint that she is interested in running, although there are no indications she has taken any actual steps in that direction.

“Long and disjointed,” said one social conservative activist when asked for reaction. “A weird speech,” said another conservative activist. “Terrible. Didn’t make any sense.”

“There was a certain coarseness to her that wasn’t there before,” said yet another social conservative who noted that some in the crowd were uncomfortable with Palin declarations like, “Screw the left in Hollywood!” (It’s not that they like the left in Hollywood — just the opposite — but the crudeness of Palin’s expressions turned them off.)

“I know she is popular, but it is hard to take her seriously given that performance,” said Sam Clovis, the conservative Iowa college professor, radio commentator, and sometime political candidate. “Palin was a sad story Saturday. With every speech she gives, she gets worse and worse. If one were playing a political cliche drinking game, no one would have been sober after the first 15 minutes of an interminable ramble. It was really painful.”