FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Boxing Day at Hot Air: A switcheroo on Palinmania.
I note this with all affection and respect for both bloggers.
Nonetheless, anybody who has read Hot Air for any length of time knows that Allahpundit’s the pessimist and Ed Morrissey’s the optimist. Which makes today’s switch here kind of cool.
First, Ed, who is echoing Glenn Reynolds’ “Don’t get cocky, kid”:
…we have to guard against the same kind of cult of personality that arose around Obama and continues to this day. We want the large crowds, but we need to have them pay attention to the message. That message can’t just consist of “hockey mom” and “pit bull”, but a coherent public-policy philosophy along with a demonstration of how Palin’s record and experience supports it. Otherwise, we run the risk of making Palin into a reverse cartoon from the bubble-headed, trailer-trash yokel that the media has begun to paint.
That means being realistic about Palin’s experience. As governor for only 20 months, she has more executive experience than Barack Obama, but that’s a quip, not an argument. McCain chose her because she has a record of real reform, and of risk-taking in cleaning up politics, that includes more than just her term as Governor. We need to press that message and show how Palin commits McCain to change by outlining her achievements over the last several years, and focus on that rather than the Palin family. We have to acknowledge that Palin’s choice carried risk but that we needed a running mate like Palin to return the GOP and Washington to a path of reform, and the same old players in Washington wouldn’t do. Otherwise, we won’t convince anyone of the wisdom of Palin’s presence on the ticket.
This is very good advice. Setting up camp in Obama’s head (as Jim Treacher put it) has been fun, instructive, and useful; I’m also not especially worried that the last week has been the Sarah and the Other Guy Show for the GOP. Bluntly, we needed a little enthusiasm booster – and don’t think that the Online Left hasn’t realized it; that’s the other major reason why they’ve tried to collectively urinate in our cornflakes. Besides, we needed to maximize the amount of first-time exposure for the 90% of the population that wasn’t obsessively following this race already. But we do need to remember that there’s a reason why the right-blogosphere had both her and Bobby Jindal on the if-only-McCain-was-smart list for the last year, and it wasn’t for superficial.
Luckily, for that we have Allahpundit.
Here’s her Alaska speech from yesterday:
And Allahpundit absolutely gushes (well, for him) on the impact:
For all the (often belittling) references to her as a hockey mom and moose-hunter, the key to the public’s fascination with her, I think, is the unexpected flashes of brilliance she shows as a retail politician. No one I know, even among blog readers and grassroots conservatives who have been high on her for months, saw that coming; the assumption was that if McCain picked her, we’d be getting someone young, smart, appealing, with a welcome reputation for ethics and a compelling bio, but probably a bit out of her depth on big stages trying to connect with voters. Watch the first five minutes here and appreciate how expertly she works the crowd. It’s all very colloquial and apparently off-the-cuff, but there’s more artistry than meets the eye. Maybe Charlie Gibson’s right to hope she goes easy on him.
A quick comparison between this and, say, her PA speech from the day before is instructive. Some people have noticed that she’s giving roughly similar speeches in the past week – and, instead of coming to the obvious conclusion (that she’s going around introducing herself and John McCain to the 260+ million Americans who didn’t watch her RNC speech), they’ve come to a more comforting one (to them): she’s some sort of talking head for the McCain campaign.
I suggest that those people not watch the Alaskan speech in full; I’d like the Gibson interview to be as unpleasant a surprise as possible. As Allahpundit said above, she’s actually very good in general, and not just on prepared statements (however necessary). This is going to lead to an interesting situation, both with upcoming interviews and the VP debates. The Obama campaign clearly wants what they’d call “vetting” to be on foreign policy, which they assume that she’d do badly on. Personally, I think that Biden’s precisely the worst choice to go after Palin on that, rhetorically speaking – he’s spent too long in a forum where the great showdowns have been traditionally resolved via the contest of Mouth vs. Bladder – but put that to the side for right now.
The problem for them is that there’s also domestic policy to consider, and the primary flashpoint of domestic policy these days is energy policy. And being an Alaskan politician means being fully checked out on energy policy. If you don’t have sufficient knowledge to start, you learn it fast, or you’re gone. So, as the above video shows, Palin can and will talk about energy policy intelligently – and as the above video shows, she can lead from energy policy to foreign policy relating to energy policy fairly seamlessly. Given that virtually the entire country agrees that it’d be just swell if people stopped giving the Saudis quite so much oil money, her approach may work better than Biden’s, which will undoubtedly revolve around him knowing who the current President of Khazakhstan is.
Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. I had to look it up, after I figured out how to spell the country’s name properly. Which is, by the way, sort of my point.