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    September 04, 2008

    Tracy Flick for vice president

    Posted by: Chris

    SarahpalinconventionCount me among those not particularly impressed by Sarah Palin's speech last night at the Republican National Convention. I do understand why the delegates went ga-ga for her and why Kevin loved it.

    Considering all the hits she took in her short time in the spotlight, the feisty speech served notice she can give as good as she gets. Palin is an engaging public speaker, certainly more effective than John McCain and those who preceded her at the podium last night.

    For Republican partisans and others turned off (or envious) of Barack Obama and his adoring masses, the speech was a clear home run. A woman's softer delivery is better suited for using humor to mock and belittle because it doesn't come off as mean-spirited -- so long as it isn't shrill.

    Annrichardsconvention To that extent, Palin's dismissive tone about an opponent she seemed to pity more than dislike harkened back to Ann Richards' legendary stemwinder against George H.W. Bush at the 1988 Democratic convention. ("Poor George, he can't help it if he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.") Then and now, the anti-elitist rhetoric was the perfect red meat for energizing the base.

    I was a Republican back in those days but at least interested in what the other side had to say. I remember laughing along with Richards -- how could you not like her? But in the end, all those raucous applause lines Richards delivered so well had done little to convince undecided voters to ditch Bush (despite his frighteningly unqualified running mate), much less pull the lever for Michael Dukakis. I would say the same about last night.

    That's my sense about Palin's speech, which included surprising little substance about the economic issues that will decide the election.  She did, at least, come off as a more formidable campaigner than Dan Quayle, though she wind up as tarnished by scandal as Geraldine Ferraro.

    Tracyflick What's more, Sarah Palin is no Ann Richards. Last night at least, she came off half as genuine and twice as smug. Andrew Sullivan absolutely hit the nail on the head when he compared Palin to Tracy Flick, the annoyingly smirky candidate for student body president that Reese Witherspoon played so brilliantly in "Election." (Speaking of annoying, it really rubbed me the wrong way to see Cindy McCain chortling along to Palin's shots at Obama, the supposed elitist. Talk about someone born with a silver foot in her mouth.)

    If that seems like way too many comparisons, it's because Palin remains an empty vessel at this point, partly because she's still unwilling to submit to tough questioning by the "media elite." (This weekend's Sunday talk shows will feature McCain on "Face the Nation," Obama on "This Week," and Joe Biden on "Meet the Press." Notice anyone missing?)

    Time will tell if I was off-base in my first reaction, thinking McCain had "blown the election" by selecting someone so clearly unqualified. At this point, I agree with those (including conservatives) who point out the Palin pick ultimately says less about her than it does McCain's reckless, knee jerk approach to decision-making.

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    Comments

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 4, 2008 11:36:35 PM:

      That would at least explain why Andrew Sullivan - and most Obama supporters, for that matter -- are doing a wonderful imitation of Jim McAllister.


    1. Lucrece on Sep 4, 2008 11:47:25 PM:

      You know you've succeeded in your post when NDT has to make an inaugurating retort with no relevance to the subject.

    1. Anellidifumo on Sep 4, 2008 11:56:34 PM:

      I don't know, Chris, I don't agree. Even if I despise Palin's "values" and philosophy of life, I have to admit that she's a wonderful speaker, able to emotion and give good vibes to those who share her point of view. She delivered one of the sharpest speech a VP has ever done in the last, let's say, 20 years. She has a very good rhetoric, come on. Sure, she's not the kind of politician who you candidate in order to convince independents and moderates to vote for you, but she's not been chosen to do that job. SHe was chosen to bring the hard-core Republicans to the polls, all those people who -deep down- dislike McCain "moderate" profile and could have gone to vote only as a slash to Obama.

      As for her personal cv, Palin reminds me of a much better looking and younger Ms Thatcher, and you know how popular she was able to become at the beginning of her era. "Scandals" come and go, if we agree to call her daughter's pregnancy a "scandal", and after all you are called to vote for her, not for Bristol. Sure, the policies that Palin endorses are responsible even of Bristol's bad sex education but, hey, that's something you can say with liberals and moderates, not with anti-abortion ppl.

      Last but not least, she embodies coherence. In Italy, we have horrendous far-right politicians who define as teo-con and support the same Palin's ideas, but then they had 4 marriages, a new wife, some flirts, and all their starlette women had tens of abortions. Nobody cares, at last, because they are Catholics and -you know- it's the most pret-a-porter religion ever existed...

      So, to conclude, I respect her, even though I think she's the devil :-)

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 5, 2008 12:08:12 AM:

      And it's even funnier when Lucrece cannot recognize a reference to the same movie that Crain and Sullivan are citing.

      Meanwhile, Chris, the speech wasn't directed at you; Palin is not wasting time and effort on voters like yourself who have already demonstrated that there is nothing that could possibly happen that would stop you from voting for Obama.

      It was directed at those people in small towns who Obama says are "bitter" and "clinging" to God and guns.

      It was directed at those people who Obama's campaign says are intellectually inferior because they attended state and community colleges.

      It was directed at those people who have and raise kids versus aborting them.

      It was directed at those people who think it rather ironic that Obama blabs about taking care of the least of your brethren when his own kin are scraping by on a dollar a month.

      It was directed at those people who realize that, despite his rhetoric that the rich should pay more in taxes, that Obama has never followed through on it by paying more than was required of him.

      That's a start; you get the idea.

    1. Charlie on Sep 5, 2008 12:23:23 AM:

      It was directed at those people in small towns who Obama says are "bitter" and "clinging" to God and guns.

      It was directed at those people who Obama's campaign says are intellectually inferior because they attended state and community colleges.

      It was directed at those people who have and raise kids versus aborting them.

      It was directed at those people who think it rather ironic that Obama blabs about taking care of the least of your brethren when his own kin are scraping by on a dollar a month.

      It was directed at those people who realize that, despite his rhetoric that the rich should pay more in taxes, that Obama has never followed through on it by paying more than was required of him.

      Oh, so you mean the same people for whom nothing could possibly happen that would stop them from voting for McCain? That's nice. Maybe Palin should have considered building a "bridge to somewhere" across the cultural divide you've delineated, instead of using her speech as an opportunity to deepen that divide. I went to an Ivy League college, and if I'm to feel bad for being supposedly elite, then hell, I'm gonna vote for the other guy. You may suggest that Obama drew those battle lines, and that might be fair, but that doesn't justify Palin or any politician deciding that one group of future constituents is truly not worth her "time and effort."

      And what's funny is that I didn't even see what she was doing until you just made it so abundantly clear to me, NDT.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 5, 2008 12:56:49 AM:

      I went to an Ivy League college, and if I'm to feel bad for being supposedly elite, then hell, I'm gonna vote for the other guy.

      I've never gotten the sense that you think anyone who didn't go to an Ivy League school is your inferior. In that case, you should be perfectly able to understand Palin's statements about people like Obama who believe that their Ivy League education makes everyone else inferior to them.

      Question, Charlie: how do you think the millions of people across this country who went to community colleges and state schools and became productive citizens feel about the Obama campaign and its media syncophants snickering and laughing that Palin obviously lacks in education and intellectual ability because she went to community colleges and a state university?

      That's from where Palin's appeal comes.

    1. Charlie on Sep 5, 2008 1:30:14 AM:

      That's from where Palin's appeal comes.

      I absolutely get that. But I still think she's playing that card as a political tool, which is certainly her option as a politician, but it's a card I'd rather not see played. Just like I really think she (or her supporters, anyway) overplay the gender card, while I honestly believe Obama has done an admirable job of steering us away from the race issue as much as is possible. Doesn't mean I think Obama is the second coming or anything, but even you must admit, he is not without his charms.

      I also believe there's an element of disingenuity to it. Yes, her education is "modest" compared to Obama's, and maybe it's elitist to make an issue of that. But when McCain and Palin take office, do you think they're going to surround themselves with "everyday folk" like Palin makes herelf out to be? No, they will have the "best and brightest" for advisers and cabinet members and that's going to be a lot more Harvard and Yale grads. Maybe I'm wrong, but its certainly not unlikely. To a lot of people, those names really mean something.

      Thanks, by the way, for acknowledging my lack of elitism on the issue of colleges. Yes, my sister and I both graduated from Ivy schools, but neither my mother nor my younger brother, who are some of the sharpest people I've ever known, have any college degree at all. It's only as meaningful as you want it to be. While you know I'm not a huge fan of Sarah Palin in general, at least what I know about her politics, I do think it's kinda awesome that a woman with a community college education could grab the VP slot. Very "american dream" - so hell yeah - her appeal is undeniable.

    1. Chris on Sep 5, 2008 1:43:05 AM:

      Maybe Palin should have considered building a "bridge to somewhere" across the cultural divide you've delineated, instead of using her speech as an opportunity to deepen that divide.

      "A bridge to somewhere." Nice turn of phrase, Charlie! Even stronger point. You ought to be a speechwriter. ;)

    1. Anellidifumo on Sep 5, 2008 1:52:00 AM:

      Quoting Charlie:

      "But when McCain and Palin take office, do you think they're going to surround themselves with "everyday folk" like Palin makes herelf out to be? No, they will have the "best and brightest" for advisers and cabinet members and that's going to be a lot more Harvard and Yale grads."

      Sure, so what? It's given for granted that McCain & Palin, if elected, will surround themselves with roundheads coming from the best universities and not with the butcher and the milkman coming from Nowhere, Alaska. The problem is not the social origins of the McCain-Palin staff; the problem is who will be in the position to appoint a Cabinet (made of roundheads). Or do you mean that anybody coming from an Ivy League is necessarily liberal? :-)

    1. Charlie on Sep 5, 2008 2:03:57 AM:

      Sure, so what? It's given for granted that McCain & Palin, if elected, will surround themselves with roundheads coming from the best universities and not with the butcher and the milkman coming from Nowhere, Alaska.

      Well, I just think it's a little disingenuous to play Palin's lack of "A list" education against Obama's "elite" education, as if to say, "hey, education doesn't matter" and then to surround themselves with the same people they were just distancing themselves from. Not dishonest, just a bit disingenuous. And also, if the soccer mom from Nowhere, AK, doesnt think the butcher and milkman from the same place are worth consulting with, why should we elect her, in favor of the sort of person she DOES think is worth consulting with? (Note: I'm not putting this judgment into Palin's mouth, nor is it my belief necessarily. I'm just extending Anelldifumo's analogy.)

    1. Charlie on Sep 5, 2008 2:09:06 AM:

      You ought to be a speechwriter.

      Thanks, Chris. High compliment indeed. I AM looking for a job, but speech writing wasn't on my short-list. :)

    1. Anellidifumo on Sep 5, 2008 11:32:59 AM:

      Charlie, we don't elect Palin because there is *nothing* that she believes in that we agree on. But the average Republican shares a lot with her thoughts. It seems to me you see a class-conflict in this election, as if the Reps are the one representing the uneducated, and the Dems the highly-educate, while there ain't no class-conflict here.

      The roundheads that would be appointed in the Cabinet and in the staff of a future McCain-Palin presidency would share more or less the same opinions and philosophy of life of the average Republican who voted for Palin. I.e., they would be against abortion, pro Death penalty, against Gay Rights, justifying their political choices with God's will and so on. The only difference, is that they would have an Ivy League Diploma hanging in their studio, which could lead us to think that -deep down- they actually say what they say not because they believe it is right, but because they think is convenient...

    1. Charlie on Sep 5, 2008 12:11:46 PM:

      But the average Republican shares a lot with her thoughts.

      Well, sure, but they might also share a lot of thoughts with the milkman in Nowhere, AK, but since he isn't even fit to serve as an adviser, we're not going to put him up for the highest office in the land, are we? My point -- which is entirely speculative -- is that if Palin does not consider people of her own educational background to be fit to consult with -- then why should we consider her fit to lead the land? (Again, this is based purely on an extension of your analogy. I have NO knowledge of who Palin intends to have as her advisers.)

      And there is absolutely a class-conflict going on. McCain was already doing it, but Palin has already taken multiple opportunities to distance herself from the "elite" and "out of touch" like Obama. It's a bold move, as it not only distances them from Obama, but also every President we've elected in the last 20 years. Are the intellectual rigor and culture supposedly imbued at these "elite" universities required to lead this country? Probably not. Will they play well on a foreign stage. Absolutely.

      But .. the people will decide.

    1. Lucas on Sep 5, 2008 3:05:32 PM:

      Republican Party's claim of Obama's elitism is laughable -- given the fact that Republican party is the party of rich and wealthy, that consistently cut taxes for the wealthy, want to cut social services to the poor and privatize education (essentially preserving best education for the wealthy). The whole idea of the trickle down economics, is the hallmark of republican party's economic policies -- you cut taxes for the wealthy and big businesses to stimulate the economy, they create jobs for the less wealthy, and government needs to provide less services because people are more self-reliant. Of course, we all know too well from history that it doesn't work.

      On the abortion issue, it's easy to say what one should or should not do, without considering the consequences. A leaner government implies fewer social services to help mothers (and fathers) to care for the children. What do you do with those kids that nobody wants, or that the parents are incapable of caring for? Leave the children to take care of themselves? At the same time, the republican party is against adoption by homosexual couples who are willing to provide a loving home for those unwanted kids.

      We eventually kill those unwanted kids that falls through the cracks anyways, by not providing them with the environment, the education, the opportunities they need. They turn to drugs and gangs, become criminals that we then lock up in jail and kill them via death penalty. Doesn't it seem hypocritical, to reduce an issue down to black and white, yet nothing to alleviate social problems?

      For those of us who are left-leaning independents, it seems, that the republican candidates offer little in substance, but a lot of hot air. It's interesting how the republican party criticized the media during the RNC for going after Sarah Palin's personal life, while she offers little for the media to report on, other than her personal life.

      So, the media is more interested in her personal life than her positions on issues because she's a woman, fine. So what does she do in her speech? She doesn't talk about her positions on relevant issues. She talk about herself, portraying herself someone from a small town and give some position on wedge issues -- nothing to indicate how she's a good candidate for the vice president, or perhaps, the President, should McCain decide to move on during office.

      Overlooking the fact that many of her statements are half-truths or misrepresentations, she offers nothing for anyone other than the republican base, a candidate they can vote for.

    1. Lucrece on Sep 5, 2008 5:57:13 PM:

      NDT, darling, the citation to the movie is not central to the subject of the post. That you chose to nitpick such a trivial aspect of the post is no laughing matter; you've become quite the repeat offender concerning this precious tactic of yours.

      P.S. Does the word "retort" not mean anything to you in the context I used it? ;)

    1. Anellidifumo on Sep 7, 2008 2:49:27 AM:

      Charlie, if elected, Palin won't appoint the milkman as advisor or minister, because she's not stupid. She can play the card of the simple hockey-mom in the campaign moment, but then she knows that she has to be surrounded by ppl who know what she doesn't know.

      It's an extension, if you want, of Adolf Hitler's philosophy: "a nation of Arians, blonds and blu-eyed, leaded by a brunette with black eyes" ;-)

      I then agree with Lucas: no class conflict because the GOP is THE elitist party. Almost blue blood, if you consider the Bush bunch.

    1. Charlie on Sep 7, 2008 11:44:08 AM:

      Anellidifumo - I think we might be arguing the same idea.

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