Disorganized thoughts on last night's speeches
4 September 2008
There’s a long and linky post about Governor Palin that I’ve been wanting to compose, but last night, instead of writing that, I watched the Giuliani and Palin speeches. I know I’m not the intended audience for these things, but here are my reactions:
- Do we now have a bipartisan consensus that it’s shameful to criticize a mother of young children who works outside the home? (Pause for raucous laughter.)
- Both Giuliani and Palin pronounced “community organizer” with the tone of contempt that Republicans usually reserve for “trial attorney”, “American Civil Liberties Union”, or “French”. As osewalrus puts it: “because getting a large group of fractious people motivated and organized around a common goal on a non-existent budget is work for pussies, right?”
- Quoth Palin: “Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involved. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.” But she never told the crowd what her responsibilities as mayor were… perhaps because in her case, they included raising the city sales tax, hiring a DC lobbyist to get pork from the Federal government, and putting the city over $18 million in debt.
- I bet a lot of people watching the speech on TV wondered why “Styrofoam Greek columns” was an applause line. It’s the sort of insider reference that alienates the outsiders.
- A prime-time convention speech is an opportunity to appeal to swing voters. If I had been Palin’s speechwriter, I would have scoured her biography for specific examples of her reformist actions and padded that into a half-hour “Mrs. Smith Goes To Juneau” story that she could tell the cameras. They could always save the red-meat attacks for the time slots where independent voters are less likely to be watching, and of course the folks in the stadium would have cheered enthusiastically for Palin reading the phone book. So why didn’t they take that route? Is her record really that thin? Is the campaign staff too unfamiliar with her record to compose such a speech? Does McCain need to energize his base that desperately?
- Both speeches rehashed the attacks on Obama that the Clinton and McCain campaigns have been running all year. If those arguments haven’t pulled McCain to a decisive victory in the polls yet, why should they do it now? Contrast that with Obama’s acceptance speech, where he counteracted the image of himself as an empty suit by talking fluently about specific policies.
- I think the crowd’s reaction to Palin should kill off any speculation that she’ll be bumped off the ticket.
- Moments after the speech ended, NBC’s announcer reported that when Palin boasted of turning down the “Bridge to Nowhere” earmark, she had been, shall we say, not entirely accurate. I don’t know how many people heard the fact-check over the crowd noise, but congratulations, NBC, for that moment of actual journalism.
PS: The Obama campaign’s fact-check of Palin’s speech has been reposted here.