Thursday, September 04, 2008So I did my civic duty today and watched the Sarah Palin convention speech from last night. I have to say I find the media coverage and the reaction from liberals in the blogosphere somewhat befuddling. It wasn't great oratory, and she wasn't particularly charismatic. It was a perfectly workmanlike speech that could have been delivered by any moderately competent Republican elected official. No big deal really.
First, the positives: she had a friendly demeanor, established a good rapport with the crowd, and only took a little while to loosen up. She made some effective statements establishing her middle class bona fides and her status as an anti-Washington reformer. She also did a better job than most of tying McCain's POW status to the challenges America faces today. Contrary to what you might expect, only about a third of her speech was explicitly negative.
And then to the negatives. The setting was quite bad, with the blank black screen behind her (but I suppose that wasn't her fault). He delivery was fairly flat - not much variation in tone or volume. The speech itself was pretty disjointed - there was no central set of themes, and certainly no inspiring peroration. I also thought that her demeanor was a little too sarcastic, which probably made her speech seem more negative than it really was. The speech itself was remarkably vague - the only real specific was that we should drill more - as a whole it was virtually substanceless. And, of course, the speech was full of outright lies - that Obama will raise taxes on everybody, that she oppose the bridge to nowhere and cut taxes, and that Obama hasn't passed any reform or bipartisan legislation. And can I also say it's a strange speechwriting decision to praise McCain's bipartianship in one breath and then attack Harry Reid in the next? Not that anybody even knows who Harry Reid is!
What I find most striking is what the speech did not do. Other than her "identity" position as "regular folks" and her commitment about special needs children, there was nothing in this speech for swing voters. It was essentially a base mobilization speech. Furthermore, whatever happened to the appeal to Hillary Clinton voters? Did the McCain camp just give up on that?
Overall I thought Palin was perfectly adequate. Certainly not "Reaganesque" or anything else worth hyperventilating about (the Republicans sure are desperate and the Democrats paranoid, aren't they?). Interestingly she did just well enough, and the media coverage has been positive enough, that expectations for her performance in the future have been raised substantially. We'll see what happens when she finally has to hold a press conference.
Let me say finally that I don't think she did anything to address the multitude of scandals surrounding her candidacy - her abuse of power, her lack of broad experience in national policy, and her radical ideology. Frankly what I find objectionable about her isn't that she's unqualified, but that she's another George W. Bush - a corrupt, incompetent, ideologue.
No wonder the wingnuts love her.