Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A star is born

So says even Wolf Blitzer at, of all places, CNN.

Wow. There are a lot of Republicans having what Charlotte Hays calls a Chris Matthews moment. Sarah Palin's speech was a masterwork. She was intelligent, witty and charismatic. The speech was a quite sophisticated weave of biography, policy positions, praise of McCain and attacks on Obama in a way that wound up emphasizing her governing accomplishments (a rather longer list than Obama can present)and subtly responding to the various attempts to portray her as a fanatical and uninformed bit of white trash.

She took the fact that she is from a small town and tied it to the condescension that has gotten Obama in so much trouble in Appalachia. She ticked off a rather impressive list of accomplishments in twenty months as Governor and contrasted it with Obama's fairly unimpressive record as a legislator. (He's a tree shaker, not a jelly maker.) One thing that Alaska helps her with is energy policy where she has some natural credibility and some real achievement. She ties that in with international energy markets in a first attempt to demonstrate foreign policy cred. She weaves her defense on McCain into a rather moving discussion of the need to resist evil and the lessons born of humility and powerlessness.

It's not hard to see how she went from the PTA to the state house. Her political skills are different than Obama's, but no less impressive.

The speech was that much more impressive because it was delivered by a newcomer to the national scene who had been subject to what was perhaps an unprecedented five day sliming. It quite obviously didn't get to her.


What I found amazing is that, although the speech was obviously written for her (so are Obama's), it was wonderfully well tailored to her voice.

My guess is that Obama partisans will complain that it was too partisan (that what's the VP nominee traditionally does) and too conservative (although it did not strike me as highly ideological). Fine. But, while there is only so much that the veep nominee can do for the ticket, if you're a Democrat and you want to be candid (or realistic), you have to see this woman as trouble. You have to admit that it looks like she can play at this level.

Were there any weaknesses? She started a bit slowly. The speech was a tad folksy, for my taste, but that may just be me. To put it in the terms of my profession, she came across as a great jury lawyer and not a law professor. My guess is that this is who she is and rather than contain it, she needs to balance it by showing that she knows her stuff.

She also has the challenge that all professional women have. She can't appear to be too tough. Tonight, I think she skewered Obama with a smile and in a way that came across as funny rather than mean. But there is little doubt that she is Sarah Barracuda.

Some of her kids looked like they didn't know what to do (although the youngest daughter is an adorable little ham). I don't think it hurts her. It underscores the fact that this is just a normal family.

There is a long road ahead, but this is about as impressive a beginning as one could expect.

52 comments:

TexPat said...

I don't think that she went too far in her attacks on Obama but I did get a bad feeling every time the cameras cut to shots of the audience guffawing.

Regardless, tonight made it clear that Palin will not have any trouble on the stump and I can't wait to see her go up against Biden.

Anonymous said...

Women love her, ask your wife.

My wife has little good to say about women in politics but she likes this one and thinks she will do just fine.

krshorewood said...

If you love a lying, hate-filled rant, you walked away from this care wreck satisfied.

Seth Zlotocha said...

What I found amazing is that, although the speech was obviously written for her (so are Obama's),

Swoon all you want, Rick, but at least be accurate. Obama has been the primary author on all of his major addresses: his '04 keynote address, his announcement to run for president, his speech on race, his primary victory speech in June, and, most recently, his nomination acceptance address (among others).

About Palin's address, it was a solid delivery, but I think the general snarkiness when attacking Obama, in particular disparaging community organizing (which a couple other speakers also did last night), will come back to bite her, and I'm not sure cultural populism -- that rural/urban divide she played up -- is going to play this year as it has in the past. But I guess we'll see...it's time to let out of that cone of silence she's been in since Friday so we can find out.

William Tyroler said...

True, as Rick says, "she skewered Obama with a smile." But she also filleted the mainstream media. I don't think we'll hear any more stories about insufficient vetting, or predictions of an Eagleton-like withdrawal.

Separately: The dawning realization that Palin may well be Obama's equal when it comes to speechifying -- his one demonstrable talent -- must shock his supporters to their core.

Anonymous said...

A star is born??? What???? Is she a celebrity????

Oh, and Anon 6:16 -- don't be so quick to determine women love Palin. This one doesn't and I know plenty others who don't. Nothing like making generalizations.

I will say this--Palin can read well. Simply because she can deliver a speech does NOT shock this Obama supporter.

Skewering Obama with a smile! I would think the Shark and other GOPers could come up with something a bit more tangible, but hey, if that's all you have, that's it.

The media should definitely NOT back off on reporting anything about McCain and Palin. Because of all the protestations from the McCain camp, I wonder what is out there they want to hide?

I, for one, await the debates!

Dad29 said...

she came across as a great jury lawyer

Dead-on, and exactly what she had to do.

Andrew said...

Even more impressive, WLS in Chicago this morning reported that the teleprompter wasn’t waiting for applause breaks so she delivered a portion of the speech without any text or notes.

I also like your law professor / trial lawyer analogy. As William Buckley said, “I’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty.” With all respect to law professors, I think the every-woman persona of Gov. Palin will resonate with casual voters (the exact voters I believe she was selected to attract).

- Andrew Mays

Anonymous said...

The far left worse nightmare, a woman that people love that is not beholden to abortion and homosexual politics.

What a breath of fresh air for the country. Go girl!

3rd Way said...

She did what she had to do and did it well, but getting behind the podium with prepared remarks penned by a professional writer is a lot different than getting behind the podium to face a hostile press. The real test comes when she has to perform in a press conference and face off against Biden.

The irony of the right wing's new found celebrity worship of this woman is surreal. She gives one speech on the national stage and people are wetting themselves. Celebrating her as the second coming of Reagan is a little premature.

It is going to be hard to judge the reaction to last night's primetime broadcast. Palin's second half might be negated by Guiliani's first half. I don't see the condescension and mockery in Rudy's Limbaugh/Sykes/Hannity impression going over real well. I hope most swing voters are repulsed by the way the crowd at his drivel up. It was pretty nasty, and clearly a different tone than the attacks of the Democrats.

My first impression of Palin's speech was that I have a hard time picturing this real life version of Tracy Flick toking on a doobie. There is more to this pitbull with lipstick than what meets the eye. That could be positive or negative... Time will tell.

TexPat said...

this real life version of Tracy Flick

Not even close. She is really the anti-Flick. No sense of entitlement. No resentment of her constituents. None of the obsession and calculation that comes from deciding in sixth grade that you will one day be POTUS.

And anyway, we all know who the real Tracy Flick is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rleUPHX8yfM

3rd Way said...

The Tracy Flick jab references the inflection in her voice, her pointing, her smile and the head tilts. Reese Witherspoon nailed that same type of folksy earnest ambition with her Tracy Flick.

As I type this Amy Poehler or some other SNL player is working on refining the same traits for her Palin impression in the first SNL skit of the new season. I guarantee it is going to be funny.

Seth Zlotocha said...

A small snapshot of the indie reaction, but it's something.

Craig Nolen said...

the speech was even winged from the halfway point after her teleprompter failed. Way to go Sarahcuda.

Publius said...

"The irony of the right wing's new found celebrity worship of this woman is surreal. She gives one speech on the national stage and people are wetting themselves."

Let's all that one sink in for a minute... And see irony as it happens...

Seth Zlotocha said...

the speech was even winged from the halfway point after her teleprompter failed

Or not.

Anonymous said...

Sara Palin said:
"we tend to prefer candidates who don't talked to us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco"

Why would anyone disagree with her on that? Moreover, why would anyone vote for Obama when he did do that?

The Wiseman did not visit Obama when he was born or when he decided to run for President.

3rd Way said...

You must be immune from irony Publius. Rick has warned us time and again that we should be leery of politicians whose celebrity eclipse their accomplishment.

By those standards the jury should still be out after a professional telecaster turned politician gives one speech on the national stage.

If Palin was a Democrat we would be warned that her proximity to the oval office is incredibly dangerous, but since she is a Republican the celebrity worship begins and "A star is born".

isn't it ironic... don't you think

Seth Zlotocha said...

Moreover, why would anyone vote for Obama when he did do that?

Please, Anon. I think most people take it with a big grain of salt coming from a politician who literally said one thing to the people of Ketchikan about the "bridge to nowhere" and then another to the nation when the press spotlight fell on it.

And, speaking of those people from Ketchikan, many aren't too happy with her rubbing it in their face now that she's in the national spotlight.

Obama's comment was an off-the-cuff statement that, while inartfully stated, essentially made the same argument he'd made on multiple occasions, including here on Charlie Rose (and here's Jim Webb making the same argument on the pages of the Wall Street Journal), which is a critique of cultural populism trumping economic populism.

For Palin, on the other hand, there is no such cover; she just said one thing to a small town for votes, and then said (and did) something else to the nation when it became a liability.

Anonymous said...

Run, Levi, run.

TexPat said...

If Palin was a Democrat we would be warned that her proximity to the oval office is incredibly dangerous

That's true. But I say that about all Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Walt Monegan, the former Alaska public safety commissioner, told ABC News today: "I think there are some questions now that, coming to light about how transparent and how honest she wants to be," Monegan said.

Is she a star, or is she just another republican?

TexPat said...

Obama's comment was an off-the-cuff statement

Did you all get that? A politician tells a small constituency that she favors a piece of federal largess but then later opposes the largess when the political climate changes (for possibly cynical/strategic reasons). I'm not thrilled by such conduct but let's be honest, in the world of politician transgressions, this one is surely venial.

But a presidential candidate whose whole brand is "changing the tone," ending the "the old style of politics," and bringing "change we can believe in" -- this man, in a moment of candor, says that it is bitterness about their lot in life that causes some people to cling to God and guns (opiate of the people anybody?). And this is characterized as an "off the cuff remark"? What does that even mean? That's it's something he said but didn't mean?

Apparently this is Seth Zlotocha's message: Move along. Nothing to see here. Just some small talk that has nothing to do with a presidential candidate who views an entire class of people as gullible rubes taken in by fairy tales and shiny trinkets.

What nonsense.

3rd Way said...

a presidential candidate who views an entire class of people as gullible rubes taken in by fairy tales and shiny trinkets.

That made me think of this:

Let's all that one sink in for a minute... And see irony as it happens...

It is humorous how this Palin pick suddenly makes it real easy to turn around all the arguments you guys have been making against Obama.

Anonymous said...

My opinion only, but liberals seem to be missing the point about the enthusiasm surrounding Sarah Palin, primarily because they believe their own commercials 'McCain voted with Bush on 90% of everything'...so, what was HRC or Obama's record of voting? Bush has spent like girl on her way to prom for 8 years just like a Democrat. The difference is merely that Republicans deficit spend and Democrats do it more up front.
How soon you all forgot, McCain is a liberal, a RINO, not as liberal as your average Democrat, but he ain't no conservative by any stretch. Outside of the Iraq war, I'll bet Hillary has voted 'with the President' over 75% of the time and BHO is only worse because he so rarely was there to vote.

Sarah really does represent conservative ideals. Few others in Governments state or national do. I have never voted for a Democrat and only one Republican in my 6 chances to vote for a President. I vote Libertarian to try to foment change. I will be voting for McCain now just because of Palin. No one is ever really ready to become a first time President. It is your beliefs that determine your mistakes and successes and a hard core conservative will make the mistakes I understand and the successes I approve.
Tuerqas

Jimi5150 said...

If you love a lying, hate-filled rant, you walked away from this care wreck satisfied.

What incredible insight! Please, enlighten us more!

As for Obama's speech writing . . . I don't know that I'd brag about that. 57 states? Among many others.

Seth Zlotocha said...

What does that even mean? That's it's something he said but didn't mean?

Are you kidding? You want to know what "off the cuff" means?

Well, it means that it wasn't a prepared statement, hence, the possibility for an inartful comment was increased. The fact that Obama (among others) has made this exact point before and not raised a ruckus is pretty strong evidence that it was his phrasing and not his underlying point that is at issue. That's my message.

I gave you an example of Obama making the exact same argument by in '04 on a national TV program, but my guess is you didn't even take the three minutes to check it out. You just saw "off the cuff" and then went on a sarcastic anti-elitism riff...speaking of which, did you crib that from a GOP convention speech, by chance?

By the way, "a small constituency"? Did you throw that in to suggest it shouldn't matter that she went back on what she said to voters because it wasn't a big enough town?

Anonymous said...

"It is humorous how this Palin pick suddenly makes it real easy to turn around all the arguments you guys have been making against Obama."
Humor me 3rd way, expound.
Tuerqas

Anonymous said...

Sara Palin said:

"But listening to him (Obama) speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state Senate".

I guess Seth is right, Obama is simply full of hot air.

reddess said...

Well this woman likes her.

Go Saramerica.

McCain/Palin '08

Seth Zlotocha said...

I guess Seth is right, Obama is simply full of hot air.

Huh?

Of course, given her quick tutorial over the weekend, it's understandable Palin (or at least her speechwriter) missed the 820 bills Obama sponsored in the IL legislature (including the major issues of ethics reform and death penalty reform) along with the 152 bills his authored and 427 he co-sponsored while a US Senator (including those on issues like nuclear non-proliferation).

And anyone else interested in taking all the lines from Palin's speech last night as fact may want to read here and here.

3rd Way said...

Tuerqas-

I completely understand how Palin appeals to social conservatives, but from my understanding of her record I don't see how much of what she has done would excite a traditional conservative.

She raised taxes on oil companies and gave the proceeds directly back to the people of Alaska (where have I heard something like that before?), she lobbied for and recieved enough pork barrel spending to make even the libbiest of libs blush, as mayor she went on a spending spree and ran up a debt, after she inherited a balanced budget, and she is on record saying she wanted assurances there was an Iraq exit strategy.

She talks a good game but her record directly contradicts some of the things she talks about.

Dad29 said...

says that it is bitterness about their lot in life that causes some people to cling to God and guns

"cling" and "bitter" are directly from a paragraph in Alinsky's book "Rules for Radicals". Alinsky applied that phraseology to the middle class, which had to be persuaded of the virtue of revolution...

Rick Esenberg said...

Seth

Every Senator has his or her name on a gazillion bills. It's a meaningless number. The question is where a Senator has demonstrated expertise and actually authored or shepherded a bill. Obama doesn't have much of that - in part because he's been a Senator for three years and running for President during most of that time.

Seth Zlotocha said...

The question is where a Senator has demonstrated expertise and actually authored or shepherded a bill.

As I mentioned, he's authored 152 bills as a US Senator, and has been the lead on important legislation like the Obama-Lugar non-proliferation bill and the lobbying reform bill (more here). And as a state senator he was the lead on IL's landmark ethics reform bill along with its high profile death penalty reform and racial profiling bills.

The fact is you haven't really independently looked into Obama's record, Rick. You're just following the herd and hoping the meme is true.

Anonymous said...

"but not a single major law or reform"

Seth -

I browsed through and was not impressed with what Obama is being credited.

Then I looked at Palin statement again and did not find it to be inaccurate when it does say "single major" law or reform. I think the key word is “major”.

I think you are right when you said that Obama says things off the cuff and that he really doesn't mean it. It seems to also be true of his supporters.

Last night my wife floored me when it was being said that Obama has never ran anything and she said that she bets he doesn't run anything at home either with a wife like his. His wife probably is proud of that.

Anonymous said...

"This is a man who can give give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and nevr use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign".

Seth -

Why do you support a man that wants to lose our wars?

Anonymous said...

reddess said...
Well this woman likes her.

Go Saramerica.


reddess -

I think many women feel the same - this is someone they can identify with.

Seth Zlotocha said...

I browsed through and was not impressed with what Obama is being credited.

Impressing you isn't the gold standard, Anon.

But when Palin claims that Obama has never authored anything that's major, she's calling ethics reform, nuclear non-proliferation, racial profiling, the death penalty (among others) not major, and I look foward to seeing her explain herself on that (among the other falsehoods and distortions in her speech).

I think you are right when you said that Obama says things off the cuff and that he really doesn't mean it.

Funny!!

she said that she bets he doesn't run anything at home either with a wife like his. His wife probably is proud of that.

Ah...ok. Why does your wife feel that way?

Why do you support a man that wants to lose our wars?

Clearly I hate America.

Why do you support a man who wants to start more wars?

Seth Zlotocha said...

"This is a man who can give give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and nevr use the word 'victory' except when he's talking about his own campaign."

Just for the record, from Obama's speech last week:

"When John McCain said we could just 'muddle through' in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights."

"You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq."

"I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease."

Hmmm...more distortions from the Palin speech. Anyone else noticing a trend?

Anonymous said...

Seth -

You silly spinmiester you...the far left has forced our dependency on foreign oil with foolish policies that stopped drilling and refining oil. The far left is more to blame for Iraq then anyone else. It almost seems that foreign oil writes your platform because they are the ones that benefit from it the most.

It's a good thing that McCain/Palin know what it will take to try and change us from that. Victory in Iraq is not in your vocabulary but when it occurs, I hope that you congratulate our people when they come home.

Seth Zlotocha said...

the far left has forced our dependency on foreign oil with foolish policies that stopped drilling and refining oil. The far left is more to blame for Iraq then anyone else.

And this thread has officially fallen off the deep end. It was starting to teeter there for a bit; thanks for putting it over the edge, Anon.

reddess said...

anon 7:01

You got that right!

Anonymous said...

Reddess and Anon 7:01--must be a lot of bitter women.

Jimi5150 said...

Obama also voted "present" 130 times. Apparently he couldn't make up his mind!

Also, Obama has never governed.

Publius said...

Leadership is a very difficult concept to define.

Is a state governor more of a leader and US Senator?

Ulysses S. Grant was a failure at everything in civilian life that he tried. But when it came to battle he had what was called "four o'clock in the morning" courage. When awakened out of a deep sleep he still had the presence of mind to counter attack his opponent.

Unfortunately these political parties, end up being a mass- popularity contest.

Will Sarah or Joe be a better Vice President?

Good Question

Publius said...

Also somebody try to hijack my on-screen identity at 12:08 PM.

Am I my victim of facetious identity theft?

Perhaps only a hustling hawk, would know my true identity.

Rick Esenberg said...

Publius

Only a hustling Hawk - one who may have spiked you while we were working on goal line defense - would know.

gus said...

Mommy, what's the difference between a "community organizer" and Al Sharpton??
Mommy, I've got a Columbia degree and a Harvard degree, why am I hanging with Ayers, Wright and Rezko??

Hmmmmmmmmm?? Libtards? Anyone? Beuhler?

alan eisenberg said...

Esenberg's post is poorly reasoned and off the mark; I would love to debate him in a public forum, in person, face to face, any time, anywhere. Enough hiding behind his cheap shot blogs.
Alan Eisenberg
Alan@alaneisenberg.com

Anonymous said...

Alan

I have seen both of you work. Sorry Alan, but Rick would kick your ass. Any time. Anywhere.

A Bitter, Bitter Man :) said...

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http://bitterwhitefolksforobama.blogspot.com