I started watching Sarah Palin’s speech a few minutes into it last night, and my take is that she’s a supremely confident speaker, and is clearly willing to go for the jugular, but didn’t give us any reason to think that she has any grasp of the issues that matter at the national level.

The first chunk of the speech was about her family, and that’s understandable — the nation still has to really meet Sarah Palin, and that’s what that was about. The next bit was about her accomplishments as mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska, and this is where my incredulity meter started jumping. Palin threw out a line or two about her strong ethics reform credentials… on the same day that she stopped cooperating into the Alaska legislature’s ethics inquiry into her firing of the state public safety commissioner. She clearly implied that Alaska’s current budget surplus was as a result of her vetoes of wasteful spending, but there’s really no debate at this point that huge windfall taxes on the Alaskan oil and gas industry, taxes championed by Palin, are what’s responsible for the surplus. (Of note, these same taxes were defeated in Congress by the GOP in the lower 48; also of note while we’re talking about surplus and debt, when Palin started as mayor of Wasilla, the town had no debt, a number that ballooned to just under $20 million — or $3,000 per person — by the time she left.) And finally — and most brazenly — Palin claimed that she was against earmarks and the now-famous Bridge to Nowhere, claims that are now known to be so absolutely, positively false as to make you wonder if her press insulation was so effective this past week that she doesn’t know that there’s not a single thinking person who believes them anymore.

After all that, Palin then segued into the only bit of policy meat in her speech, a minute or two about energy; I won’t proclaim to know a ton about energy policy, so it’s hard for me to judge this. She then finished with an alternating string of attacks on Obama and honorifics about McCain, demonstrating the barracuda-like style that gave her her nickname back home.

For those so-inclined, The Washington Monthly did a nice fact-checking of the speech last night, as did the Associated Press and the Obama campaign.