Palin Makes Strong First Impression

Palin Makes Strong First Impression


The reviews of Sarah Palin’s big speech have been widely positive. I’m not deviating from that trend. I thought she did an incredible job. Content aside, she was personable, tough and not at all too small for the stage.

There is still a lot of campaigning left, but I think we can safely say: Palin is no Dan Quayle. She can more than make up for her slim experience through her obvious intelligence and powerful charm/rhetorical skills (kind of like someone we know on the Democratic ticket, no?). She managed to weave together a speech that featured typical Republican bromides, cut-and-paste attacks on Barack Obama and a sprinkling of maverick-ness and yet, she somehow sounded fresh.

I think Palin’s going to be a much stronger addition to the McCain campaign than many of us originally believed. I think she’ll give Biden a surprisingly tough time in the Vice Presidential debate and I think she’ll charm more voters than the Obama campaign would like to admit. There has never been a major American political figure quite like her. Her very presence will help McCain deflect the notion that he’s offering “more of the same.”

Now, the question is, can she keep it up? If it’s all downhill from last night’s speech, then all those positive attributes I mentioned will fade from the public’s memory. Her experience is still an albatross. Her maverick tendencies are muted by her social conservativism. To Palin be an effective gamble for McCain, she has to keep up the intelligence and the charm. Do that and the Republicans have a shot at this thing.

  • gerryf

    We must have watched a different speech–or, as many rightwing pundits pointed out beforehand, the expectations for her were so low that exceeding those expectations is considered a plus

    (note: i didn’t say that, right wing pundits said that).

    Good speech for a convention speech, but it needed to be more to be incredible given all the attention that has paid to Palin over the last week.

  • kranky kritter

    I wonder how long the Obama campers are going to keep clinging to the “unprepared lightweight token” meme. They’ll need a new and sellable story by Monday, I think. My money is on “mean bitch.”

    Be on the lookout for mocking echoes of Palin’s IMO ill-advised joke.

    What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?

    I could run off 5 or 10 nasty alternative punchlines in a minute. I’ll leave them to folks own imaginations.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    gerry: I don’t think my expectations were low. I expected her to be poised and well-spoken. What I didn’t expect was her ability to frame the typical Republican message in what felt to me like a fresh way.

    Now, most partisans are going to dis it because they went in planning to dislike it. That’s just the way the game is played. Others, like yourself, are focusing more on content than the whole package — which is actually the more politically astute way to judge a politician. Written out on paper, I think the speech would look old and uninspiring. She made it into something far better.

    Obama has been repackaging 25 year-old Democratic solutions as inspiring change for the last few years. I think Palin may be able to work the same kind of magic from the other side of the aisle (not quite as well as Obama does, but in the same ballpark).

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    kranky: if the Dems go with the “bitch” attack, they’re going to be in a world of hurt. The obvious counter-punch to that is for the McCain camp to release messaging that says “first Obama demeaned Hillary, now he’s going after Sarah. What’s Obama’s problem with women?”

    Given how bitter many Hillary supporters are about the way they believe she was treated, don’t doubt that the Republicans can woo a significant number of those voters by playing on their irritation/anger with the Obama campaign.

  • gerryf

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and I actually re-watched the speech, and I think, oddly, the reason I found the speech pretty average is that I actually expected more.

    I’ve gone through the morning responses and seen things like “A Star is Born” and I remain perplexed by those kinds of praise.

    Sitting here, I’ve come to the conclusion that I actually expected more, so my response is really one of “Was that it?”

    Most of the hub-bub around her this week has been a non-starter for me or a wait and see what develops. I had worked under the impressssion that there was more to her than meets the eye.

    In the end, for me, it was pretty much a competent convention speech. I still think a lot of the praise being heaped on her speech is forced or due to low expectations.

    How ironic that I was disappointed because it didn’t mean my higher expectations.

    Most telling to me was that my wife (a right leaning voter who has NEVER voted for a Democrat while we’ve been married with the exception of Sen. Debbie Stabenow) turned the TV off in the middle of the speech. When I grabbed the remote and turned it back on, she said something to the effect of “Why, it’s just the usual Republican spiel. Let’s see what she has to say when she’s not standing in front of a crowd of republicans.”

  • Rob in Denver

    I agree that casting her as a mean bitch is the wrong way to go. I think the focus on McCain’s judgment and temperament — especially in the McSame context — needs to continue. Recent Obama TV ads seem to agree.

    There’s no doubt that Palin’s a force and is, as you say, “in the same ballpark.” The question now is, “is there enough time left on the clock?”

  • mw

    “Now, most partisans are going to dis it because they went in planning to dislike it. That’s just the way the game is played.” – ASC

    You want to know the real “tell” about the Dem reaction? Over the last two days, Dem pundits, commenters, and bloggers were all about what a terible pick she was, how she was going to have to drop off the ticket, how she would use the kids as an excuse to drop so McCain could pick Romney, blah blah blah. It was not a question of if but when she was going to drop or be dropped off the ticket. The smarmy smugness was stifling. There were even pools on when she would drop out. Gandelman covered it here.

    Try and find anyone on the left that is still saying that this morning. And if you do? Please let me know, because I want to take the other side of that bet.

  • pico

    “She can more than make up for her slim experience through her obvious intelligence and powerful charm/rhetorical skills (kind of like someone we know on the Democratic ticket, no?).”

    Okay, so… am I the ONLY one who doesn’t see her “obvious intelligence”? She was kept in seclusion from the media for three days by the McCain camp and read a speech off a teleprompter–she didn’t actually WRITE the thing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she’s stupid–anybody who’s become a governor has to be fairly intelligent–I’m just not convinced yet that she’s as intelligent as everyone is making her out to be, and having her read a speech won’t change that. If she handles herself well in interviews and in the vp debate, then I’ll be convinced.

  • Fred

    I think she did a great job of reading the teleprompter…good emotion. But I don’t think that she really wrote the speech. The true test will be at the debates. Game on.

  • gerryf


    This morning I noted that the GOP broke tradition and did not nominate her for VP–her actual nomination will occur tonight after McCain speech (anyone else question the wisdom of putting McCain up against opening day of NFL?).

    Ask yourself, wasn’t that providing a golden opportunity if Palin messed up? I still think there is a chance she gets the hook before tonight, but the chance is shrinking hourly as the rightwing blogosphere and radio hypes her speech into something it is not.

    My guess, she did well enough to stay on the ticket, but it was not the performance she needed to persuade anyone.


    I’m with you, she performed as well as anyone who had been coached in seclusion for three days. She is not a dimwit, but she didn’t demonstrate she is especially intelligent.

    I think she is a canny politician, good at consolidating her base by bringing people into her camp that are already on her side or snagging those in the middle or getting rid of those who aren’t on her team. I think she has demonstrated a ruthlessness in (and no, that is not a code word for bitchiness for those who are hunting for secret messages) the past just as I think most politicians have a demonstrated ruthlessness. I think she fairly intelligent, but not brilliant. She is an OK speaker, but not a great one.

    I think the left today is disappointed she is pretty much what she appears to be; and I think the right is relieved she is the same.

    I admit without reservation I’ve leaned left the last 8 years, but I still had reservations about Obama. I don’t know if there was a game changer out there that would have compelled me to switch to McCain.

    I do know she’s not it, and despite all the Palin supporters running around defending why Palin is not the person the left has painted her to be, I have yet to see one cogent reason why she is worth voting for.

    Everything is she’s as good as Obama (not true) and not anything about “This is why you should vote for McCain Palin).

    When you get right down to it, all the GOP has really offered me as a voter is “McCain Palin is not Obama and we’ll drill for oil! Vote for me!”

    The rest has been a continuation of the current GOP policies with a more competent leadership (and I’m not saying that is a bad thing) and “Hey, we’re not Obama.”

    That’s not going to cut it this year. I want more.

  • Voter777

    Carribou Barbie reminded me of a classic “Mean Girl”, snarky, and unnecessarily cruel, not a Presidential attitude at all, which any VP candidate should have, as a minimum requirement.

  • John

    A smug, sarcastic speech, with lots of vitriol, but not much substance. The republicans sure are angry. Angry at the media. Angry at the left. Angry at the government. Do they realize that they’ve been in charge for the last 8 years?

  • J. Harden

    I do know she’s not it, and despite all the Palin supporters running around defending why Palin is not the person the left has painted her to be, I have yet to see one cogent reason why she is worth voting for.

    What amazes me with statements like this is that they have to be purely emotionally based, and regardless of the tonal moderation, utterly partisan, for one simple reason: I have yet to see on cogent reason what Obama is worth voting for.

    Despite all of the retarded bullshit: Palin has more exexutive experience that Obama, hands down. Granted she hasn’t writen 2 memoirs and she nailed it on the Head: People use change to advance their careers, and some people use their careers to advance Change. She did a wonderful job of exposing Obama as the breathtakingly arrogant fraud.

    Long story short, he’ll be even further exposed in the debates that he doesn’t want to (but has to) participate in.

  • Rob

    she read a speech written by someone else from a teleprompter. How is this going to tell us anything about her?

  • SlowBurn

    Don’t you know that the teleprompter malfunctioned early in the speech? Also, she assisted the speechwriter in writing the speech; finally, Obama is an idiot without a teleprompter so what’s your beef there? She obviously did a slam dunk on the Obama-Biden nightmare; in summary: when obama loses in November, America wins.

  • L

    J. Harden:

    What amazes me with posts like yours is that they have to be purely emotionally based, and regardless of the tonal moderation (or lack thereof), utterly partisan…

    Oops, is there a trend here?

    P.S. Executive experience is not in and of itself a reason to vote for someone, it must be proven, well-handled executive experience.

  • khaki

    As Peggy Noonan said, “[The old paradigm in America] is over”, and the Republicans are slow to realize it. Once the country digests what this woman is all about, they will run. The country will not tolerate more idealogically driven policy from the extreme right.

    Examples from

    • Palin said that the war in Iraq is “God’s task.”
    • Palin wants creationism taught in public schools.
    • Palin doesn’t believe that humans contribute to global warming.
    • Palin has close ties to Big Oil – Her inauguration was sponsored by BP.
    • Palin is extremely anti-choice – She doesn’t support abortion in the case of rape or incest.
    • Palin opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools.
    • As mayor, Palin tried to ban books from the library. Palin asked the library how she might go about banning books because some had inappropriate language in them—shocking the librarian, Mary Ellen Baker. According to Time, “news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.”
    • She DID support the Bridge to Nowhere (before she opposed it). Palin claimed that she said “thanks, but no thanks” to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. But in 2006, Palin supported the project repeatedly, saying that Alaska should take advantage of earmarks “while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.”

  • gerryf

    J. Harden, boy am I tired of that nonsense Palin has experience talking point.

    Ever heard of John Cramer? Shortly after Palin was elected, Cramer was brought on as city administrator to run the daily operations of the city. Some say Palin brought him in, some suggest he was put in place by republican party bigwigs.

    In communities with professional administrators, the chief responsiblity for Palin was to sit at the head of the table during council meetings and bang the gavel.

    Wow. Big executive experience.

    So, all you have left is Palin as governor for 18 months, which is less time then Obama has been running a national campaign with more staffers than Palin’s entire state.

    It does not include his time in the senate where he ran both a washington and state staff. It does not include the time the years he spent running his office in the state legislature.

    So, please, refrain from the “Palin has more executive experience” sillyness.

    Now, why I am leaning towards voting for Obama

    Better legislative environemental record than McCain.

    Obama was right about Iraq. McCain was and remains wrong.

    Obama was right about Pakistan. McCain was and remains wrong.

    Obama has a definted economic plan that I tend to more closely align with.

    Obama proposes a single payer health care plan. McCain’s plan is pretty much more of the same thing that doesn’t work now and never will work. The right calls it socialized medicine, but it’s not.

    Barrack has a better record on women’s issues

    Obama favors rolling back the Bush tax cuts, which favor (in my opinion, and Warren Buffet, too)

    Obama will appoint more moderate supreme court justices–I know, in your mind, that means liberal. If it means anything to you, and I am sure it does not, I would support Roberts and not support Alito. I differ from Obama on Roberts. I like Roberts, with the exception of his propensity for expanding executive privildge. I am ultimately pro-choice. I am not a strict constructionist. I find the idea that the laws of 200+ years ago are unbending strikes me as impractical.

    I oppose off shore oil drilling as an election year scam and deplore such nonsense. Obama has a plan to seek alternative energy source.

    Obama has shown himself to be a more civil politician, actually beseeching his followers not to question McCain and threatened to fire anyone who went after Palin’s daughter. Yes, I know, in the conservative world where a promise to fire someone (Libby) is never kept, until Obama break his promise I give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Obama has said all the right things about the treatment of prisoners, which I think is a horrific black mark on this country. (McCain said the right things, but then backed off–this is where he lost me. If anyone ought to be against torture, it is him).

    I believe in a foreign policy that involves others and doesn’t go it alone.

    Obama is concerned about the invidual’s right to vote.

    Obama wants to bring the troops home from a war we should never have started.

    Obama supports public education (McCain supports vouchers where public dollars go to private schools without accountability.)

    I can go on like this for hours. Now, if you could, without simply mirroring my statements like a monkey, why do you support Palin….not McCcain…you compared Obama to Palin so I ask that you tell me what issues you support her for, real reasons that you can demonstrate.

    I’ll spot you anti-choice.

    The problem with Palin, really, is that she is a big question mark.

    My point isn’t that Palin doesn’t share philis

  • Jim S

    Her very presence will help McCain deflect the notion that he’s offering “more of the same.”

    She’s Bush with a gender change. The only things to come out of the Bush Administration that she disagrees with is that she’s an even more fanatical anti-choice believer and is suing over the EPA declaring the polar bear endangered.

  • Jen H.

    “Okay, so… am I the ONLY one who doesn’t see her ‘obvious intelligence’?”