At the Republican Convention, last night belonged to Sarah Palin. But before I get into THAT speech, I would like to say a few words about Rudy Guiliani’s speech—a speech, by-the-way, that the Press (and most Republicans) have ignored. Guiliani set the tone for Palin’s entrance, pulling out all the stops in his attacks on Obama, enjoying his assault almost as much as the pumped-up crowd did. To me, he came across as smug and arrogant, tossing out sarcastic and down-right nasty barbs with a creepy smirk on his face. He seemed to turn into a caricature of himself, sort of like what Mr. Burns of the Simpsons would have looked like had he been drawn as a Bugs Bunny nemesis. But he did his job well. When Palin came out, no matter what she said, she wouldn’t appear as contemptible as he did.
Sarah Palin is a good speaker. She comes across strong and confident. These are good qualities, ones I’m sure she honed in her beauty queen days. She’s an attractive yet fierce woman, a Miss Alaska runner-up and moose hunter at the same time. She’s got an 80% plus approval rate in her own state. She’s the kind of person who knows what she wants and is determined to get it. In fact, as Mayor of Wasilla and Governor of Alaska, she simply fired those who disagreed with her or stood in her way. (Shortly after taking office, she rescinded 35 appointments made by former Governor Murkowski in the last hours of his administration.)
Palin definitely made a huge impact at the convention last night. The NY Times stated, “Palin Assails Critics and Electrifies Party.” “Palin Comes Out Swinging” expressed CBS News. The Los Angeles Times exclaimed, “Palin’s First Punch is a Solid Hit.” The NY Daily News had a warning, “Do Not Make the Mistake of Underestimating Sarah Palin.” Doyle McManus, staff writer at LA Times, wrapped it all up with a pretty bow. “Palin delivered the most important speech of her career with poise and pugnacity, extolling Republican presidential candidate John McCain as ‘an upright and honorable man’ while throwing repeated jabs at Democratic nominee Barack Obama.” Hmmm. Are you paying attention Democrats?
On the Free Press website, Freep.com, the voter panel’s reaction was mixed with Republicans celebrating and Democrats remaining unimpressed; however, it was the Independents’ reactions that throw a dark shadow over the Republican’s jubilation:
Ilene Beninson, a Berkley independent, writes, “Sarah Palin is a self-described ‘pitbull with lipstick.’ She spent little time helping Americans learn who she is. She is a cool, poised speaker, but her speech contained few statements about policy or the party platform. … I am not convinced that Palin’s experience as a mayor or governor in Alaska meet the qualifications to be vice president much less one stroke or heart attack away from being commander in chief.”
Jan Wheelock, a Royal Oak independent, adds, “Nothing worked for me. I found her barrage of snide remarks and distortions to be a major turn off. She is not a class act. The most important point she made is that she will be an effective attack dog.”
Joellen Gilchrist, a Beverly Hills independent, was not impressed either. “Sarah got as much applause as Hillary did, and had a friendly, appealing appearance. Her delivery style reminded me of a high school valedictorian who also might have been a cheerleader. I thought she would appear more professional, more stateswomanly. She’s no match for Joe Biden.”
The Republican Party needed a conservative, attack dog Vice Presidential candidate that would rejuvenate the party and galvanize the ultra conservative Rupublicans’ lackluster support of McCain. At her first attempt, Palin has certainly done that. But at what cost? Many Independents, who were on the fence, were taken aback by her attack dog persona and her black and white only stance on politics. She may be good at trapping Moose in Alaska, but I think she’s going to find it much harder to catch the American Independent—something the Democrats already know how to do.