Palin-Palooza Wrap Up.

4 09 2008

Part of me really didn’t want to watch last night. Several of my friends here in Anchorage couldn’t bring themselves to do it, and I understand why. Doubtless there are many others in Alaska who were glued to their sets. I knew Palin would deliver the speech well, considering her sportscasting experience. I knew she’d look good, and have an air of sincerity and straight talk. But I also knew she didn’t actually write the speech, so this was going to be more a test of delivery rather than a thoughtful dissertation full of policy details. But I watched anyway. It was kind of like a personal test of strength. I passed.

The stunner of the speech for me? “I said thanks, but no thanks to that Bridge to Nowhere”. Frankly, I was surprised she said it the first time, shocked she said it the second time, but again? Almost incomprehensible. This must be her test to see if that old George Bush theory that if you say something enough, people will just believe it, is true. No other explanation seems possible. This is easy to fact check. Really easy. Palin decided she didn’t want the bridge when she learned that Alaska would have to pay too much for it. If Stevens and Young had been able to pull it off, we’d be motoring to Gravina Island right now.

The nastiness of the speech surprised me a bit too. I had imagined that she’d be playing the Mom card – sensitive, caring, tough when she had to be, but the feel-good human side of the Republican party. It would have made it much more difficult for Joe Biden to flay her in the debate without looking mean. But time and time again, she stuck it to Obama with relish, and not on policy either. She talked about elitism, lack of ‘executive experience’, did the whole “parting the waters and saving the world” snark, mocked the use of the dreaded columns at Mile High Stadium, and criticized the Obama logo. Are we really reduced to logo bashing? McCain has been on the wrong side of so many issues that matter to people in this election, there’s obviously nothing left. And that’s what gives me comfort.

But the cherry on top was her sneering, snarky comment about how being a mayor was like being a community organizer, only with “actual responsibility”.

A commenter on this blog summed it up so well: (hat tip MH& metafilter.com)

“Jesus was a Community Organizer, and Pontias Pilate was a Governor.”

Can we cram that all on to a bumper sticker, or will we only be able to make t-shirts…

The fact that this derision of community organizers was met with rousing applause by the delegates did nothing but cement the fact for many viewers that this is really the opinion, and the spirit of the Republican ‘base’. What did all the good-hearted Republican community organizers out there watching the speech think, not only of the comment, but of the reaction from their own party? Whoever the speech writer was, it became apparent rather quickly they were going for zingers, barbs, and clever one-liners, and not really thinking much about how the non-bloodthirsty segment of the viewing audience would feel about it.

Sarah Palin was the Hail Mary pass of the GOP. The McCain campaign is counting on voters being dazzled by the package, enchanted with the newness, and pumped up by the fightin’ spirit of this unusual political figure. And they are also counting on the fact that most people will go no deeper than that.

Soon the Republican convention will be wrapping up, and we’ll be ready to move to the next phase of the campaign. How will Palin fare in an actual interview? What will happen in the debate with Joe Biden, who just said he would be “unrelenting” in his challenge of Palin? What will Hillary Clinton have to say about this? Stay tuned.