CNN: INCREDIBLY POPULAR SPEECH GETS MIXED REACTION
OK, I made that headline up. But how different is it, really, from the headline CNN gave to a story about video responses to the Palin speech at the iReport.com site?
iReporters split on Palin's knockout punch
Er, guys? If opinions were split, it wasn't a "knockout punch."
And there certainly were quite a few negative responses:
...James Martin of Mooresville, South Carolina, described Palin as "nasty, crude and totally unacceptable as VP." He was especially offended by the "cheap shots" she took at Obama and Democratic running mate Joe Biden.
"I can't see how America can be better off electing someone who shows so little respect," he added.
...Steve Duffy of Salt Lake City, Utah, was dismayed by Palin's "snarky" comments during her speech. Duffy, a former supporter of Republican Ron Paul, said he and other Americans hoped for uplifting speeches rather than political attacks.
"This does not help the political discourse and it does not make people admire you for being selected as the Republican candidate for vice president," said Duffy, who recently decided to support Obama.
While Kuntal Warwick agreed that Palin was an impressive speaker, she found the Alaska governor's tone offensive. "Yes, she was tough, yes, she spoke well and yes, she sold herself," Warwick said. "However Sarah Palin will not get my vote in November for some of the same reasons that I was reluctant to vote for [Sen. Hillary Clinton] during the primaries. She came across as angry and overconfident." ...
Add this to the focus-group responses I quoted in this post, and to Steve Benen's roundup of "underwhelmed" responses from this Detroit Free Press panel, and it's not clear whether the "knockout punch" even landed.
All of which leads me to this post by The Atlantic's Ross Douthat:
... based on the reactions [to Palin's speech] I've heard and read to date, let me just reiterate the advice that Reihan [Salam] offered to Democrats when she became McCain's pick for veep: Do not attack her. Stop referring to her as a just a small-town mayor and a neophyte governor who's unqualified to be President; in fact, stop referring to her at all.... the Obama-Biden ticket has vastly more to gain from changing the subject away from Sarah Palin than they do from placing her candidacy, her qualifications and her background front and center in this race.
Why? Is she untouchable? No. A lot of people just flat-out didn't like her. A lot of people thought she was full of herself. And a lot of people noticed that she still hasn't explained why she's qualified. What's more, many people know about her hard-right political philosophy and don't want any part of it.
Sure, concentrate on McCain. But don't be afraid to talk about her. The McCain campaign is obviously going to put her front and center (at least in friendly venues) and keep her there in order to fire up the base.
And she's obviously going to launch attacks every time she opens her mouth.
Why refrain from responding? Because she's a woman? Because it would seem unchivalrous? Everybody knows now that she's as far from a delicate flower as she can possibly be. Fight fair, avoid sexism, but don't be afraid to take the fight to her. She said she's a fighter, didn't she?