The In Crowd

There’s a lot of excellent commentary about Sarah Palin’s speech on the Web today. A consensus is forming that the speech may have been great for the hall but didn’t reach out to the rest of America. For example, Steve Benen said,

Going into the speech, I expected Palin to try to connect to a mainstream audience, demonstrating competence, credibility, and readiness. She already enjoys the support of the GOP base; Palin has to work on convincing everyone else.

And yet, she (or, more accurately, the McCain campaign aides who wrote her speech) went in a different direction, aiming to shore up the party’s base even more. Instead of seriousness, Palin went for biting and sarcastic partisanship. Instead of presenting herself as a trustworthy leader, Palin proved herself an attack-dog ideologue. Instead of answering questions about readiness, she answered questions about who she hates and how much. Palin not only steered clear of the concerns of swing voters, she practically thumbed her nose at them.

What’s more, Palin did this with a strikingly dishonest speech, filled with the kind of obvious and transparent falsehoods that even half-way knowledgeable observers can debunk off the top of their heads. Palin didn’t just lie, she lied brazenly, as if to say, “I don’t care.”

I wrote in the last post why small-town Americans might not take to Palin as quickly as the GOP seems to assume they will. Probably some will, but some will be turned off by the “mean girl” persona.

Nate at FiveThirtyEight also has some good commentary on why Palin’s speech might have fallen flat with independents:

I think some of you are underestimating the percentage of voters for whom Sarah Palin lacks the standing to make this critique of Barack Obama. To many voters, she is either entirely unknown, or is known as an US Weekly caricature of a woman who eats mooseburgers and has a pregnant daughter. To change someone’s opinion, you have to do one of two things. Either, you have to be a trusted voice of authority, or you have to persuade them. Palin is not a trusted voice of authority — she’s much too new. But neither was this a persuasive speech. It was staccato, insistent, a little corny. It preached to the proverbial choir. It was also, as one of my commentors astutely noted, a speech written by a man and for a man, but delivered by a woman, which produces a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.

The story is that the speech was a generic vice-president speech written before the Palin announcement and then adapted for Palin. If true, I think that’s extremely weird.

This was a very small sample, but the independents on a Detroit Free Press panel were not impressed.

McCain is not a great orator, so expectations for his speech tonight are not high. Even so, what he does with this speech will be telling. In order to reach out to persuadable “swing” voters, IMO he needs to show he understands peoples’ economic concerns and has some idea what he’s going to do to address them. He needs also to persuade listeners that his administration would not be a copy of George Bush’s. I think some vague noises about “reform” and “change” are not going to do that; he needs to call out specifics.

If, on the other hand, he dedicates the bulk of his speech to what a great commander-in-chief he will make but provides little in the way of specific economic ideas, this will be a speech to the base, not the country. Yes, they need to energize the base, but they can’t win with just the base. Surely they know that.

Or maybe they just want to talk to themselves. They’re the only ones who like them.


I’m watching Howard Fineman on MSNBC. He’s pissed. GOP operatives are trying to intimidate the press into laying off reporting on Palin. He’s really pissed.

6 thoughts on “The In Crowd

  1. They are talking to themselves, but are so used to being able to push this BS on the rest of the country, they haven’t realized the country isn’t buying it quite so readily as it once did. Witness the shock + outrage + cancellation McCain had with Larry King – the media isn’t carrying water for these clowns quite the way it used to. And yet they carry on, not accepting that fewer people are listening, and like dinosaurs, are unable to adapt.

    This election will be a referendum on whether these old Nixon-era tactics still work. It’s also going to get extremely ugly, as these people realize the old ways are failing, and so they’re going to push them even harder. “Country First” indeed.

    In the meantime, I’m reading lots of conversion diaries on DKos, where family member x has finally been swung over to the Obama camp, by Sarah Palin’s performance. And this is translating into dollars for Obama. In my own case, I finally opened my wallet and kicked in a contribution, just because that woman’s sneer pissed me off. I know I’m not alone.

    I’m heading out tonight with my Drinking Liberal buddies to watch the RNC nominate Gramps McCain. Proper lubrication is the best way I’ve found to deal with the militantly delusional like those at the RNC; I hope the bar we’re gathering at has some pretty strong glass in front of the TV – I might be tempted to throw a chair or two.

  2. One thing I love about what Obama & Biden did today is they appeared to play it cool, but very deftly dictated what McCain should talk about (the economy, jobs, education, etc.), forcing the McCain camp to either rewrite his speech or make it look like he had rewritten his speech. I just don’t see McCain plowing forward without addressing policy issues after two days of nothing (Obama, Biden and their surrogates will destroy them for it) and that forces a really lackluster speaker to try to light up a red-meat-soaked hall with policy wonkery. Obama could pull that off (and did last Thursday), but McCain aint no Obama.

  3. Palin took her cue from Mean Jean…Hold tight to the coat tails of the GOP slime machine, and snap away with caustic rhetoric like a vicious animal. Herd safety 101. I agree with moonbat that America ain’t buyin’ no more of that nonsense. Too much has transpired over the past 8 years for people not to be aware that they’re being played bigtime by the GOP.

    They say.. “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”..Well, Palin blew her golden opportunity. Instead of shaping perceptions of herself toward a positive light, she reached for the qualities of character that will diminish positive perceptions of her. The use of sarcasm and ridicule doesn’t speak well for a person.. even myself*

    *Off topic…but compelled to speak it.

    2 more GI’s were killed in Baghdad today. And for some reason I find Rudy Giuliani the most offense beast in the GOP herd. I have more respect for upstanding Republicans like Sen. Larry Craig who lurk in public restrooms looking to satisfy their deviant sexual appetites while claiming to the defenders of American values. I assume my revulsion of Giuliani has something to do with the level of hypocrisy that Giuliani has attained.

  4. This is nice:

    Buchanan: It was a phenomenal speech, Chris.

    More important, she’s been under fire for three days terribly as a human story. The woman got up there, never been on national television before. Never spoke to a convention and it was an astonishing performance and it’s not only her critics but her friends and her critics are saying so. And I think it’s made this convention a tremendous success. The enthusiasm factor is roughly equal on both sides. You know, I think there are women all over America who must have said, here’s a young woman under fire, let’s see how she performed. I think they’ve got to say, that’s a terrific young woman and we’ve got to be proud.

    Matthews: When did you become Dr. Phil? [audience laughter].

    Now you’ve become the foster father of all women politicians.

    Harry Truman said if you can’t stand the heat get outta the kitchen. Excuse me, you guys are playing a game.

    Let’s bring on a woman candidate and then let’s not be too tough.


    Buchanan: The question about her family life.

    Matthews: That’s out of line? Since when have you left the Clintons’ personal life out of the picture?

    The GOP has been following them around like bird dogs for 20 years.

    You guys are charlatans in this issue.

    I have no problem with press coverage of anybody.

    Buchanan: What’s your problem with strong women, buddy? You beat up on Hillary and had to apologize for that. You’ve been beating up on this gal.

    Matthews: The current term for a woman running for President is woman, not gal. Okay.

    These crocodile tears are fraudulent.

    Whoa. “You guys are charlatans in this issue.” Ya think? Pat Buchanan pretending to defend Hillary Clinton?

    Every time someone calls out one of these mo-fo’s, an angel gets its wings.

  5. Witness the shock + outrage + cancellation McCain had with Larry King


    To be fair it was an interview with Larry King who is well known to be one of the most vicious attack dogs in journalism today. It’s not like he canceled with someone who just lobs softballs and does fluff interviews.

    Oh wait.

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