Republican Convention 2008

Palin: Long on 'tude, Short on Specifics

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As an instance of political theater, I think just about anybody would agree that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's speech was pretty impressive. As Nina Easton of Fortune put it (somewhat regretfully) on Fox News Channel, "It was a home run in the first inning." It was a well-delivered, red-meat speech, chock full o' attacks on Barack Obama and Democrats in general.

For me, the lacuna at the heart of it all, a gigantic prolapsed valve big enough to punch your fist through, was the inability of the GOP to spell out exactly what John McCain's great legislative accomplishments were/are. Palin kept intoning that McCain was a great American, apart form the torture he endured during the Vietnam War. But she wouldn't quite spell out what his massive successes were. McCain-Feingold? Eh, not exactly. Earmark reform? Mebbe (except for the fact that Alaska pulls in much more dough than it sends to D.C.). He was against the Medicare prescription drug benefit—a totally awful and unnecessary expansion of the welfare state. But she didn't call that out (which makes sense, given that a Republican president pushed the bejeezus out of it all and it seemed like the average age in the RNC hall was about 70 years old).

I've got to admit that, as someone who doesn't care for Dem-Rep politics, I like Palin as a character. She's on a totally different script than any of us are used to; she's white trash in the same way Angelina Jolie is (and no wonder she scares the hell out of so many people). I want to think there's some latent libertarianism in her shtick, though I'm troubled by her bullshit backtracking on earmarks, the Bridge To Nowhere, you name it.

But in the end, the VP doesn't matter. Sen. Joe Biden is awful on virtually every level—he's a drug warrior to the max and a situational hawk and peacenik. It's the people at the top of the ticket who cause the most problems. And while I worry about Obama's willingness to raise taxes, increase regulations, and wage indiscriminate wars (that a Democratic Congress will support, as they did under Bill Clinton), I worry just as much about someone like John McCain, who for all the reasons Matt Welch details in his indispensable book details, who would be just as rotten.

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  1. Palin made a huge mistake. By being the hatchet woman she can’t play poor little woman victim in the VP debate anymore.

  2. Not true BDB. She doesn’t want to be the victim. she came out and gave what appears to be a good speech. Certainly a better one than Biden gave. I think most people look at the media now and wonder what the big deal was. Her job as VP is to be the hatchet man and rally the base.

  3. Just sayin’ John. She better be confident she can beat Biden now, because she won’t be able to play the victim like Hillary did with Lazio.

    For her sake I hope its not a Bentsen/Quayle or Gore/Kemp re-run.

  4. In a week will anybody care about either VP? I just don’t remember it being that big of a deal in past elections. These things sink or fall from the top.

  5. Sorry, but no one is white trash or any other color of trash. We’re all INDIVIDUALS. Otherwise resign from LIBERTARIAN politics or simply just state: “Douchebag, reporting…”

  6. “I worry just as much about someone like John McCain, who for all the reasons Matt Welch details in his indispensable book details, who would be just as rotten.”

    I disagree.

    There are plenty of things to dislike about McCain but there isn’t anything at all to like about Obama.

    Virtually everything that Obama claims he wants to do is dead wrong wheras McCain is wrong on some things (like buying into the global warming scam and wanting a cap and trade system) and right on other things like keeping the Bush tax cuts and cutting corporate taxes.

  7. Good girl from Idaho. Her weakest spot was her defense of McCain. But she signed up for that and I am still slated for a vote against her campaign. Hopefully she’ll learn. If she has some plan to dipatch of said republican ticket head…….

  8. wow! what a VEEP! Ok Nelson Rockefeller was exciting but who else?

    IRONY as in FE peeps!

  9. “because she won’t be able to play the victim like Hillary did with Lazio.”

    Since when are women held to a consistant standard in the USA. Your point might have some validity if she was a he.

  10. Gilbert Martin,

    What other things is McCain right on?

  11. she came out and gave what appears to be a good speech. Certainly a better one than Biden gave.

    Shocker. Republican ass-licker John likes Republican’s speech better than Democrat’s speech. Film at 11.

  12. She gave an excellent speech and she has put blood in the water. When the sharks start attacking she won’t be able to cry…Did you all notice no one said anything about “George Bush”, all night….What does that tell you?

  13. “For me, the lacuna at the heart of it all, a gigantic prolapsed valve big enough to punch your fist through, was the inability of the GOP to spell out exactly what John McCain’s great legislative accomplishments were/are.”

    Wow! If this doesn’t make Opinion Journal’s Best of the Web’s Metaphor Alert tomorrow, I’ll lick a cat’s ass.

  14. “Just sayin’ John. She better be confident she can beat Biden now, because she won’t be able to play the victim like Hillary did with Lazio.”

    Sarah Palin isn’tlooking to pull a Hillary.

  15. “Did you all notice no one said anything about “George Bush”, all night….What does that tell you?”

    That there’s a two term limit?

    Woof

  16. I’m troubled by her bullshit backtracking on earmarks, the Bridge To Nowhere, you name it.

    Backtracking? Or someone that got the religion only recently? (which gives her a lot of company, of course, even among those who are pretty good on the subject now, like Sen. DeMint.) The stories I’ve seen seem to fall mostly in the category of “she says this now/did this when governor, but back in the day she was for earmarks until she was against them.” I do find that to be a little bit better than backsliding.

    It’s not as though the Libertarians are giving a choice of someone who isn’t a Johnny-come-lately either.

  17. As Nina Easton of Fortune put it

    I have to admit: I immediately thought “Sheena Easton” when I read this.

    She probably gets that a lot.

  18. Bill’s Dog,

    I’m fairly certain that in 1988 Ronald Reagan played a very significant role in the Republican Convention of that year. There was a two-term limit back then as well.

  19. “I’m fairly certain that in 1988 Ronald Reagan played a very significant role in the Republican Convention of that year.”

    I’m not.

    Woof, woof

  20. Nick,

    You had me until “Matt Welch….”

    Will you please come back to being editor-in-chief?

    Soon?

  21. Sen. Joe Biden is awful on virtually every level

    And yet the number of snarky Palin stories this week to negative Biden stories last week is running ten to one. It’s so unbalanced it has ceased to be funny.

  22. As crappy as both candidates are, when in doubt vote for gridlock.

  23. she’s white trash in the same way Angelina Jolie is

    I like the way you think, Nick.

  24. John, henry (heh),

    Her job as VP is to be the hatchet man and rally the base.

    In a week will anybody care about either VP? I just don’t remember it being that big of a deal in past elections. These things sink or fall from the top.

    But because McCain is so awful, she is being squeezed into the role of Dear Leader as well.

    I don’t think you can be the partisan attack dog and the beloved headliner as well – at least, not outside of your party’s base.

  25. “But in the end, the VP doesn’t matter.”

    Well, unless the President were, like say, really old or something… 🙂

  26. I think she demonstrated that she’s hot. The campaign needs to get her in shorter skirts. Maybe some halter tops.

  27. Palin was selected for multiple reasons, I’m sure, but the big one in my book was to rope-a-dope the Democrats into attacking her lack of experience. Nothing has highlighted Obama’s inexperience and likely ill preparedness to be president more. If I’m to be scared of a President Palin in the event of McCain’s incapacity, why wouldn’t I be equally scared of President Obama?

  28. If I’m to be scared of a President Palin in the event of McCain’s incapacity, why wouldn’t I be equally scared of President Obama?

    Oh, I don’t know, maybe because Obama hasn’t run around saying that the Iraq war is a mission from God?

  29. I’m really amazed how much people on the left want to compare Palin and Obama. McCain is rubbing his grubby little hands together and chortling.

  30. Not really a leftist, and I’d be just as happy to compare McCain and Obama. Personally, I don’t feel that being a POW with a few dodgy bits of legislation under your belt is a good enough qualification for the oval office either.

  31. The saddest thing about this is that the Republican Party so starved for ideas and inspiration that they really believe that the selection of Palin as VP has become some sort of game-changing saving grace.

    Well congrats on the VP pick. Now how about having ANY meaningful talking point or idea other than being TOUGH on terrorism.

    The entire Republican thought process has devolved to – We’ll fight them terrorists on their home ground and here and when we catch em we won’t even read them their rights! woo! cause they’re Islamic, woo!

    What the hell happened to having a thoughtful discourse on why limited government is good for America? Or a thoughtful discourse on anythign for that matter? Its horrifying to see how ‘cool’ it has become to be ignorant. Reagan and Buckley are probably rolling around right now in their graves, puking.

  32. If I’m to be scared of a President Palin in the event of McCain’s incapacity, why wouldn’t I be equally scared of President Obama?

    Perhaps because Obama has meaningful experience and considerable accomplishments in the field of foreign policy?

    The Lugar-Obama Cooperative Threat Reduction.
    Introduced by Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Dick Lugar and Sen. Tom Coburn.

    First introduced in November 2005 and enacted in 2007, this bill expanded upon the successful Nunn-Lugar threat reduction, which helped secure weapons of mass destruction and related infrastructure in former Soviet Union states.

    Lugar-Obama expanded this nonproliferation program to conventional weapons — including shoulder-fired rockets and land mines.

    Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act

    This law helped specify US policy toward the Congo, and states that the US should work with other donor nations to increase international contributions to the African nation.

    The bill marked the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor. Following this legislation’s passage, Obama toured Africa, traveling to South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Chad. He spoke forcefully against ethnic rivalries and political corruption in Kenya.

    Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007

    Introduced by Obama, this binding act would stop the planned troop increase of 21,500 in Iraq, and would also begin a phased redeployment of troops from Iraq with the goal of removing all combat forces by March 31, 2008.

    Amendments to the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill

    Obama worked with Sen. Kit Bond to limit, through this bill, the Pentagon’s use of personality disorder discharges in the FY 2008 Defense Authorization bill.

    This provision would add additional safeguards to discharge procedures and require a thorough review by the Government Accountability Office. This followed news reports that the Pentagon inappropriately used these procedures to discharge service members with service-connected psychological injuries.

    The Comprehensive Nuclear Threat Reduction provision

    Working with Sen. Hagel and Rep. Adam Schiff, Obama authored this provision, which would require the president to develop a comprehensive plan for ensuring that all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material at vulnerable sites around the world are secure by 2012 from the threats that terrorists have shown they can pose.

    Or, perhaps, “because he was opposed to the Iraq War from the beginning, and to similar wars, while she declared it to be a Mission from Gawd” will cover it.

  33. By labeling her “white trash” Reason’s piece of trash elitist commentators show themselves to be what they are: Beltway Phony people who are looking for attention. Palin is middle class, that is far from any definition of white trash that I’ve ever heard.

    Also I am getting REAL REAL sick of people saying Mccain would be just as bad as Obama from a libertarian point of view. That is the most bullshit fucking statement that could ever be made.

    Why doesn’t Reason, Matt Welch, and Nick “Leather Coat” Gillespie come out and say they support a near socialist over someone with an admittedly mixed conservative record?

    Libertarians need to get a fucking clue, along with a reasonable position on foreign policy and crime.

  34. How does that compare to other people who’ve spent four years on the Senate Armed Services Committe?

    I dunno. It sure as hell compares favorably to someone who was governor of a state that’s near Siberia.

  35. She better be confident she can beat Biden now, because she won’t be able to play the victim like Hillary did with Lazio.

    If Hillary can play the victim, anyone can play the victim.

    Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007

    Introduced by Obama, this binding act would stop the planned troop increase of 21,500 in Iraq, and would also begin a phased redeployment of troops from Iraq with the goal of removing all combat forces by March 31, 2008.

    Thus setting the stage for catastrophic failure in Iraq. Not something that you want to foreground on your resume.

    The rest is trivia. Lugar-Obama was an extension of a previous program, and/or is completely and laughably unenforcable (the bits on man-portable weapons). Congo Relief is all well and good, and completely unexceptional and uncontroversial.

  36. Jeffersonian,

    I think that someone who had 5 kids, lived in the sticks, liked hockey and compared themselves to a ‘pitbull with lipstick’ might endearingly call themselves white trash.

    And I think its you who needs to get a ‘fucking clue’ about what near socialism actually means and about a ‘sensible foreign policy’ that doesn’t start AND stop with threatening war.

  37. Well, RC, we’ll just have to wait and see how the American public feels about withdrawing from Iraq. (Hint: no we won’t.)

    The rest is trivia Well, I know it can’t stand up to not actually commanding the Alaska National Guard, but it pretty well refutes the notion that he hasn’t done anything but run for president.

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