Fight nightPosted: Thursday, September 4, 2008
Sorry about my progressive brethren bashing her speech tonight, and I agree with absolutely nothing she said (in fact, was enraged throughout with what she was saying, especially in mocking community organizers — has Sarah Palin ever been in a big city, ever shook the hands and cared for someone in an inner city setting?), but Obama-Biden have a real fight on their hands.
The Republicans do nothing better than fire up their base and encourage them to come out in overwhelming, angry numbers from those small towns I know so well. They do this much better than the Dems do in pulling in their own base (in a battle between bringing in college students vs. small-town residents on Election Day, never bet on the college students). Palin may get an “F” for content — frankly, she misrepresented Obama’s position on taxes and there’s a lot of talk about her late-coming opposition to the Alaskan bridge-to-nowhere — but I think Gov. Sarah Palin hit it out of the park as far as delivery. Sorry, but it’s true.
You can hate everything she said, you can make fun of her accent or her sneers all you want, but she was probably the best speaker with the best delivery among the Republicans since the primaries began. I’d be worried about meeting her again on the national campaign trail in four or eight years.
I’m wondering how many voters from my own Generation X will swing toward McCain with a running mate from the 28- to 47-year-old set that was Raised on Reagan. Oh sure, all the people I know would never consider voting for him, no matter who he was running with. But that’s a small, mostly urban-leaning segment of the population. My own generation, I still believe, is largely conservative.
And don’t underestimate the Hockey Mom appeal — as Campbell Brown was saying a little while ago on CNN, that femininity, that “mom-ness” (for lack of a better word, and I’m paraphrasing here) carriers a lot of weight for many voters. (Brown later questioned Harry Reid’s use of the word “shrill” to describe Palin’s speech, noting that word is almost always used to describe a woman, not a man. That kind of response from Reid is not what Obama needs.)
And to take Brown’s analysis a step further, there will be women, moms especially but feminists too, who will vote for McCain-with-Palin, even as Palin stands against everything they themselves stand for and have fought for, simply because they can connect with her. And, no, I am not talking about Hillary’s former and still supporters. I’m talking about the fence-sitters.
Even Hillary connected with women as a Woman, but not necessarily as a Mom, not in the way that Palin I think just did, simply by dint of having more children to trot out onto a stage.
Finally, frankly, McCain is savvier than credit has been given him. By announcing the Veep pick as soon as the Democratic Convention was over, but not a minute sooner, he didn’t let the Dems attack her during Prime Time Convention TV. But by also airing the family’s pregnancy laundry publicly, he surely must have anticipated the media firestorm that would have resulted (there’s unfortunately more focus on that than there has been over legitimate criticisms, such as her lack of experience, her back-and-forth on pork-barrel spending, and her husband’s past connection to a secessionist movement; as always, sex sells in the public imagination; and there’s also this.).
And, of course, a big enough media firestorm that they can (accurately or not) link to the Democrats against a defendable Republican (i.e., not Larry Craig) almost always produces a bitter, well-organized, how-dare-you, victimized backlash that brings out the loyal troops, picking up steam and on-the-fencers along the way. Well played, McCain.
This is a real fight, and if you don’t believe me and underestimate this, then get ready for four years of McCain-Palin.