Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Well, as I said this morning, Palin's a slick, fluid speaker, and she delivered the speech well. Yeah, I'm sure she impressed a lot of skeptics, and her numbers (and McCain's) will go up a bit, even if she said virtually nothing to demonstrate her own qualifications or grasp of the job. It won't matter, though, because the expectations were so low and the delivery was good.

I don't agree with what Chris Matthews just said on TV, that she comes off like "Norma Rae standing up to her boss." I think she comes off as a boss -- a boss in a modern office, the kind who's addressed by her first name but who can put you in your place.

I'm not even sure the culture-war stuff worked -- I wonder if she just came off as too slick to seem "just like you" to the rural voters she was addressing.

I think the ad hominems directed at Obama were effectively written and delivered, and I sense that they did some damage. To me they seemed jarring coming from someone who's been trying to seem like a nicey-nicey hockey mom, and I'm not convinced that everyone in her target market found them appealing. But they had some punch to them.

In any case, I guess the press loves her now, and Sarah-as-Cinderella is going to be the new story, even if the public doesn't really respond, or the bounce is evanescent, unless more bad gossip emerges.

She did as good a job as possible delivering a slickly written red-meat convention speech -- except she was supposed to be justifying her own choice. I guess she justified it just by seeming like someone who must be qualified, even though we don't have any more evidence of that than we did before.


UPDATE, THURSDAY MORNING: Well, a quick check of the front pages at Newseum shows that Palin's speech was a speech with McCain's base, the press ("Palin Wows Audience with Barbs at Obama," "A Fine How Do You Do: Palin Rocks RNC with Hard-Hitting Debut"). I'm seeing the word "authentic" bandied about.

But Politico, despite insisting that "all doubts were doused," found that the authentic people she supposedly authentically impressed weren't necessarily impressed. The Politico story isn't coming up as I write this, but The New Republic's Eve Fairbanks has the key excerpt:

While Palin's debut was widely dubbed a success, there is still more work to do. A focus group of a dozen unmarried women who are either undecided voters or who are weak supporters of either Obama or McCain, convened in Las Vegas to discuss Palin's speech as soon as it ended.

Two major themes emerged early on during their discussion: They still don't feel they know enough about Palin -- either personally or from a governing standpoint -- and they are worried she doesn't have the experience to take over the presidency should McCain die in office.

"The nation needs to know what her issues are," said one woman, who, unprompted, added she needed to know more specifics about Palin's policies because she worries about McCain's advanced age. Another woman quickly agreed: "He could just keel over at any moment," she said, adding that she wants to know "just exactly what [Palin's] going to do, more than just hearing about her family."

And there's this focus-group report at the Huffington Post:

In the "married" group, when one attendee kicked off the discussion by saying "she's a good speaker, and a crowd pleaser," the rest of the room articulated their agreement. "I didn't expect to be as impressed as I was," said another respondent. But then another woman added: "Once she started mudslinging, I thought, it's the same old crap as other politicians. McCain used her to get the women's vote. And she's using McCain."

"Thank you," another woman responded. "That really upset me; there was no need for that. It was snippy."

So when the press tells us that Joe and Jane Average were pleased with this political elitists' attempt at persuading Joe and Jane Average, I wouldn't necessarily buy it.


MORE: In a few interviews, The Washington Post got a mixed response, but a number of ordinary Americans were decidedly not wowed: 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."

...At an Amvets bar in Whiting, near the BP oil refinery, a Cargill plant and other heavy industry in northwestern Indiana, bargoers applauded Sarah Palin's candidacy because of what they described as her traditional, all-American values.

Still, they jeered periodically at what they saw as contrivances in her speech. "She allows her teenage daughter to get pregnant and have sex, and you guys are so conservative?" asked one woman who declined to give her name, mocking Palin's highlighting of her children during the speech....

Charles White, 48, an out-of-work house painter who is a military veteran, said he thought the speech was uninspiring and showed hopelessness among Republicans. "I go by body language, and if you feel you have a good running mate, you're going to be pumped up," he said of McCain. "McCain just chose her because she's a pretty face, and none of the men would go with him because they know he's going to lose."


AND: Kyle at Comments from Left Field has more, from CNN's site. Examples:

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’m so embarrassed for our country…

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....

This speech got mixed reviews. It was not a home run. It won't happen, but I want the press to saty that.

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