SARAH PALIN, HAPPY BUNNY
On matters of substance, [Palin's] main accomplishment was to completely sever ties to the Bush administration.
Palin, in the debate:
PALIN: Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future.
It takes a special kind of person to hear that and then write a sentence about it that begins, "On matters of substance."
With a bemused smile and a never-ending flow of words, she laid out her place on the ticket -- as the fearless neighbor for the heartland bemused by the idiocies of Washington. Her perpetual smile served as foil to Biden's senatorial seriousness.
Where was this woman was during her interview with Katie Couric?
Where was she? Trapped -- stuck with no one to address her remarks to except her interviewer, who, like Charlie Gibson a few days earlier, was giving her a look that said, "I see through all your bullshit."
And then there's Peggy Noonan, who's also besotted again:
As far as Mrs. Palin was concerned, Gwen Ifill was not there, and Joe Biden was not there. Sarah and the camera were there.
Noonan thinks this a good thing. It's not a good thing, and it points up the other huge problem with Palin, beyond her Bushite policy positions and her utter lack of qualifications for the job -- her unbridled narcissism.
Politicians tend to be narcissistic, obviously, but I think Palin's self-obsession is the purest I've ever seen. Bill Clinton, for instance, can radiate narcissism, as can, say, Joe Biden (though not last night), but when Clinton and Biden are self-regarding, it's because they think they're masters of the task at hand -- politics or statecraft. Palin's self-regard is most nakedly obvious when she's landed a zinger. The insufferably smug look she gets on her face makes clear that all she cares about is Sarah Palin winning. The reason she can't master the policy proposals, or even describe them in any detail, is that her ego isn't invested in doing anything except advancing the cause of herself.
Marilyne Blackburn, who competed against Palin in the Miss Alaska pageant, explained it concisely to a New Republic reporter recently:
"I promise you, look in her eyes when she speaks," said Blackburn, who beat Palin for the Miss Alaska crown. "That tough look in her eye [says], 'You're just not going to get me. I am going to make this happen."
Make what happen? Not a specific set of governing choices or policy proposals. No: make Sarah Palin's success happen.
By the way, Noonan liked the winking, and she and Brooks also liked Palin's ridiculous attempt at a psych-out when she shook hands with Biden ("Hey, can I call you Joe?"). Never mind the fact that, apart from one "Say it ain't so, Joe," Palin never actually called Biden "Joe," and there wasn't the slightest evidence that this had any effect on Biden. What mattered is that it had an effect on right-wingers, especially right-wing pundits. What a spunky gal!
I worry about the possibility that right-wing pundits, all writing from the same script, will change the story of this debate from "Palin Doesn't Fail" to "Palin Triumphs." I share Kos's enthusiuasm for polls as a counterweight:
I LOVE those CNN and CBS insta-polls. Rather than sit and spin bullshit all night, the pundits actually have to adjust to what the public actually thought.
In this case, it's great for us since the public thought both Obama and Biden won overwhelmingly. But regardless, it slams the door shut on elite pundits pretending to speak for the American people. Now, the American people can speak for themselves, and the pundits have to react accordingly.
I hope that's how it works. In any case, I have trouble with people who sneer at polls -- yes, there are bad polls, but polls in general are the only way the Beltway ever learns that the public isn't buying what the Beltway is selling. If it hadn't been for polls, the Beltway would have gone on telling us that the GOP really outflanked Democrats on Terri Schiavo. If it hadn't been for polls, the Beltway might have just gone on telling us that George W. Bush is a popular president -- and I mean still, to this day.