Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin Impressions

What I didn't like:
* The focus on the family. When you present your family front and center you open them up as a legitimate subject for scrutiny. That said, given what her daughter is going through you could say that the battle is only now fully joined.

* This bit: "To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House." Struck me as pandering.

* "Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines ... build more new-clear plants ... create jobs with clean coal ... and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources. We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers."

Sorry, but it isn't the government's job to determine what type of energy sources we should use -- that's best left to the free market that Republicans are supposed to stand up for. Also not big on the rah-rag USA stuff -- we should buy our energy from the lowest cost provide, wherever that may be. To do otherwise is to make ourselves poorer.

* The talk of McCain's time as a POW is growing increasingly weary. It's fine to reference it, but it shouldn't be a central talking point. If his biggest accomplishment is something that happened 40 years ago it doesn't speak too well too his candidacy.
What I liked:
* The absence of culture war talk. It helps to somewhat confirm my suspicions that while Palin is personally very socially conservative that she doesn't see government as a tool for furthering this agenda.

* While she referenced herself as a mom she didn't seem to focus too much on being a woman, instead placing the emphasis on her record of accomplishment in office. None of the hat-tips to Hillary and Geraldine Ferraro, which always seemed out of place.

* She is a very good speaker. She came across to me as being smart without being elitist or condescending, tough without being nasty and someone you can relate to without seeming a county bumpkin.

Democrats should be quaking in their boots. Judging from the reaction of most of my Democrat friends she has really touched off a nerve. That isn't what usually happens when confronting a dunce, where the usual reaction is dismissal. This alleged nobody from Alaska is quickly serving notice that she is primed and ready, and is making the claims about her being Geraldine Quayle ring hollow. Americans prize competence above almost all else and she seemed plenty competent last night (also a key reason why the experience issue - at least thus far -- has not sunk Obama: the man seems like a smart guy).

Palin brings with her a number of advantages -- Washington outsider, woman, reformer -- but what I hadn't counted on is how much an attack dog she can be. Sarah Barracuda indeed. Expect her to be relentless on the campaign trail. And she manages to do so while still maintaining the charm of a "hockey mom" -- something Hillary has never been able to do. The attacks sure hit home a lot more when they come from Palin than some tired old white guy already known to everyone.

The one hope for Democrats is not to attack Palin as inexperienced or incompetent -- they should check the resume of the guy at the top of their ticket -- it's to portray her as a wacko. Already there is talk about how she wanted to ban certain books while mayor of Wasilla and how she believes the invasion of Iraq is a mission from God. We'll see how this develops. The defense against this is that she has matured since she was first mayor (she was 32 when first elected and was overwhelmingly re-elected) and that her religious background does not influence her approach to public policy.

We'll see. But so far Palin is proving a much more dynamic force than Biden has, or likely ever will be. Democrats confident of a wiping of the floor of Palin in the vice presidential debate should reconsider.

Update: Another thought -- could Palin prove to be the GOP's best VP pick -- defined as politically wise in terms of bringing voters to the ticket -- in modern times? Compare to George H.W. Bush, Quayle, Kemp, Agnew...

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