IF PALIN BRINGS HER "A" GAME, IS THAT NECESSARILY GOOD FOR HER AND McCAIN?
The New Republic's Michelle Cottle thinks tonight will be a good night for Sarah Palin. Cottle thinks that the press is ready to write a Sarah Palin comeback story, and she expects that Palin will give a performance tonight that resembles her election-winning 2006 gubernatorial debates, rather than her recent car-wreck interviews. Cottle expects Palin to deploy her "solid ability to tap dance around questions she can't or doesn't want to answer," and adds this:
She also thrives when there is another candidate or candidates to play off of--often by employing a kind of motherly scolding to suggest that her opponents are being naughty and childish.... And while Biden isn't the stuffed shirt that some of Palin's '06 competitors were, he does look--and often sounds--every inch the political-establishment type that Palin has made a career of dismembering with her cutting remarks and cutesy nose scrunching.
Nastiness has certainly worked for Palin in the past and nastiness is the M.O. of the McCain campaign, so, yes, I think Palin will try to deploy some belittling zingers (accompanied by that damn nose scrunching), and there's a pretty good chance that she'll connect with one or two of barbs.
But is that really going to help her? I'm not sure.
On the one hand, I think the press would like to write a "Palin Upset Victory!" story. On the other hand, everyone's forgotten that even in her moment of Republican convention triumph, a lot of people just didn't like her. And one of the things they specifically didn't like about her was the gleeful meanness of her speech.
After the speech I posted some responses from focus-group members and other ordinary Americans who watched the speech. They included these:
... another woman added: "Once she started mudslinging, I thought, it's the same old crap as other politicians...."
"Thank you," another woman responded. "That really upset me; there was no need for that. It was snippy."
...in the home of another independent voter, Laura Bates, 45, of Madison, Conn., the reaction was more muted. "She gives a good speech, and she's talking to the people in her audience -- but she seems antagonistic, and I'm not impressed," said Bates, who supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the primaries. "I'd say it's about 100 percent I'd vote for Obama at this point. She hasn't really said anything constructive ... and she's been a little negative and smug."
This speech belongs on Jerry Springer, not on a national political stage. There are 5 potshot-punchlines at Democrats for every one statement about McCain. Tell us something positive about your ideals, not about the top ten quips you came up with yesterday…
I was very anxious to hear Palin’s speech to actually find what she is all about and am coming away very disappointed. I was actually embarrassed at certain points to be a woman myself as she came across EXTREMELY catty and juvenile....
And remember, that was before a boatload of nationally televised gaffes (and a couple of devastating Tina Fey sketches). These people were responding to someone they hadn't formed a strong opinion about. Now a lot of them have, and it's not a positive opinion.
I don't want to downplay the possibility that the press will declare Palin's debate performance a triumph and no dissent on the public's part will be able to counter that message. But I think it's possible that Palin might regret using her best weapon, the shiv.