Who would have thought that with a single decision John McCain would electrify the conservative base of his party? In fact, in listening to the speech by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin last night, I realized the extent to which McCain has not been a culture warrior out on the campaign trail this year. In this respect, Palin is much closer to George W. Bush, who has remained very popular with social conservatives, even as his national approval has plummeted.
Palin’s speech was certainly tough enough on Obama to demonstrate that she is ready and willing to fulfill the traditional role of vice presidential attack dog (note her pit bull with lipstick comment). But I would bet some moderates and independents found Palin’s tone to be a bit too sarcastic for an introductory speech to the nation, especially coming right on the heels of Rudy Giuliani’s quadrennial Democratic mock-fest. At a minimum, I predict the Palin nose-scrunch (when she delivers a good punch line) will soon replace the Kaine eyebrow-raise as the most frequently commented upon oratorical mannerism in national politics.
There is no denying that Palin’s strong debut has bought McCain instant street cred with a group of voters that has been muted thus far in its enthusiasm for his candidacy, which makes her an immediate asset to his campaign. But Palin will still need to give a broader cross-section of Americans a sense of how she performs under pressure in an unscripted environment, such as a press conference, town hall meeting or debate, before all doubts are erased. All of that will come in due time. For those in the arena last night, Palin passed her first vice presidential test with flying colors.
Posted On: 09-04-2008 16:34:53 by jay b. welsh
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