Having watched Sarah Palin’s first mass media exposure last night, and having had a few hours to reflect, I thought these ideas were worth sharing:
1. Sarah talked about two things: herself, and her opponent. She did not talk about the American people, their problems, the wars, the corrupt current administration, economics, the credit crunch, or anything else that matters to the American people. It felt, ultimately, like a team of rich folks, cheering on their new “pit bull.” (Her words).
2. I’m sure Sarah is on her way to a national career in politics, but the message she was trying to send – “I am just one of you” – could not be farther from the truth. Sarah is a marathoner and cutthroat politician, willing to fire anyone she perceives as not being loyal – or, in one case, who divorced her sister. There are a lot of bodies among those who have worked with, for or above Sarah, including her original mentor in politics. Sarah is not just another soccer mom. Or even another hockey mom.
3. Her version of her stand on the Bridge to Nowhere is disingenuous: she supported it first, and only reneged when McCain made it an issue. Even then, the state took the bridge money, and spent it somewhere else. There appear to be a number of similar issues in her Alaskan past; the blogs are now full of them. She does seem willing to talk truth to power, but she is also willing to modify the truth when necessary for her advancement. You will notice her leading with the Bridge story, as last night, because the best defense is a good offense. Ask Rove. Take your biggest screwup on the recent national stage, and find a way to brag about it.
Summary: While it is possible that Sarah’s charm and attack skills will help the McCain Palin ticket win the race, the result will be someone winning who doesn’t discuss the issues, talk about others, or show great concern for the deep and often frightening problems facing the nation.
While it is true that the VP is often asked to serve as attack dog during a campaign, interviews with past candidates competing with Sarah indicate that this non-focus on issues is not a new problem.
Did you notice that most of the men had been removed from the TV-visible crowd in the front of the stage? The result: although the real audience was 2/1 men/women, the TV audience last night was, visually, all women all the time.