The Problem with Palin's Speech

Sarah Palin delivered a fiery speech at the Republican National Convention last night. This speech was important because it gave her the opportunity to reintroduce herself to Republicans and introduce herself to America as a whole. And because she was buffeted by the press, sometimes unfairly, as the media aggressively combed through her record as governor and mayor and her own personal issues, the country wanted to see how she'd perform. Would she have a glass jaw? Would she shrug it off? Or would she return serve?

The reviews are in and Republicans couldn't be more pleased. Palin clearly beat expectations and proved that she knew how to throw a punch. She gave Republicans a lot of red meat and seasoned it with some tough attacks on Barack Obama and the press, which the crowd loved. Republicans were clearly enthused by Palin and now have a reason to show up and vote for John McCain and not just against Barack Obama this November.

However, Palin may have done more harm than good to John McCain's chances of defeating his Democratic rival. But why?

First of all, if Republicans loved the speech, it goes without saying that Democrats hated it. So in addition to pumping up Republicans, Palin riled up the Democrats as well. Barack Obama capitalized on this by raising $8 million after her speech. Since Obama will not be limited by public financing guidelines, he is free to raise and spend this money at will. And given the rising number of registered Democrats and the stagnant number of registered Republicans, ginning up both bases should only work to the Democrats' advantage. This problem was not lost on one Republican strategist who was not joining in the Republican celebrations of her speech.

What about independents and undecided voters? Imagine going to two car dealerships and seeing two cars that you like. You test drive both of them and can't make a decision. Then one of the car dealers tells you that only losers drive the other car at the other dealership and that the people who work at that other dealership are scumbags. Upon hearing this, most people would probably be turned off by this dealer's attitude because it comes across as unprofessional, immature, and insulting.

In the case of this election, these undecided and independent voters were looking for a reason to vote for John McCain. But instead, they heard Palin mock Obama for being a community organizer, attack him for being self-absorbed, criticize his patriotism, drag his wife into the line of fire, regurgitate some old quotes from some missteps he made on the campaign trail this spring, and blame the media. To these voters, Palin came across like the immature car dealer who resorted to name calling. These voters did not know Sarah Palin prior to last night, but after her speech, they likely concluded that she was too undignified to deserve their vote. So she wasted her opportunity to present her case to voters why she should be in the White House with John McCain. Some news sites have picked up on possible blowback from independents who viewed Palin's attacks as unnecessary and over the top.

Obama was not the only person who was on the receiving end of Palin's barbs. She also inadvertently demeaned community organizers by claiming that as a mayor of a small town, she had "actual responsibilities." This was an ironic remark because Republicans quickly pounced on Barack Obama for his "bitter" remarks that were disparaging to rural America. But by claiming that community organizers didn't have "responsibilities," she offended the very same small-town people Obama offended and came across as an elitist. These community organizers work at the grassroots level and can mobilize their small neighborhoods to get to the polls. CNN's Roland Martin was offended by this remark as well and warned that these community organizers may seek payback at the polls later on.

Barack Obama has two primary bases of support: 1) Democrats and liberals, who probably can't be persuaded to change their minds and vote for John McCain, and 2) more persuadable Republicans, moderates, and independents who have grown weary of the "us vs. them" attack politics that reached their zenith in 2004. Palin's speech fired up the first group of Obama supporters and likely embarrassed the second group of supporters who are wondering where their Republican Party went.

After a highly negative and bullying speech by Rudy Giuliani; another negative speech by Mitt Romney; inappropriate chants of "USA" every time Democrats, liberals, or the media were attacked; and the loaded "country first" chants (which suggest that only John McCain and his supporters put America first); a lot of undecided voters were hoping Sarah Palin would demonstrate a bit of class and be tough without being abrasive. While her supporters may have thought she displayed class and tenacity, people who were not in the McCain-Palin camp likely thought she came across as rude and sophomoric. Barack Obama took the high road the day after her speech, which was a wise decision because the more negative the McCain-Palin campaign becomes, the more presidential it makes Obama look.

In 2004, Democrats learned that being "not Bush" was not good enough to win the presidency. In 2008, Republicans appear to be on their way to learning that running as "Nobama" will yield the same fate. Palin's speech may have pleased the partisans in the convention hall, but millions of voters watching the convention at local bars and in their living rooms were likely quite offended. At a time when voters are worried about the economy and international conflict, turning this election into yet another culture war and slimefest seems politically foolish and plays right into Obama's hands.

20 comment(s):

Lou said...

You quite obviously are jumping to conclusions on this matter. Probably due to your hurt ego from the comments about the LEFT WING MEDIA. I was actually considering voting for Obama until Palin's speech. I now intend to vote for McCain. I feel like she has added the needed energy and non-politician type personality that this country has been looking for. Further more, yes-community organizers do work hard to influence change in their communities. However, the point of the statement was the comparison of the level of experience between a Govenor and a community organizer. The difference is clear to any level headed person.

Anonymous said...

I am from Alaska and did not vote for Sarah Palin when she ran for Governor. Even back then I felt that she was one of those women who only got to their positions due to manipulation and their looks, not their brains or heart.

She has definitely shown her true colors throughout this whole debacle. Talk about hypocrisy in the highest fashion. She purports that she is just a hockey mom from Alaska in almost every speech/interview I've seen. Who exactly is/has been taking care of her children? Not her. So she may be a mother but not a "mom" in my eyes. She herself has stated that she has a "nanny" in her commencement address to her fanatical church in Wasilla. Do a google search and you will find the speech video online. Pretty scary stuff! She states that "the war in Iraq is God's will" and if we pray hard enough God will help "her" get the gas pipeline through.
If she had any influence in national government we would be exposing our children to "God created the world in seven days" and evolution during the next class. She would also prefer teenagers to "just say no to sex" rather than become responsible safe humans. She would then like to take away the right for all women to chose what course of action to take when subjected to unplanned pregancies as a result of rape or incest.

SHe has certainly played right into the Repugs hands though, hasn't she! She seriously believes that they want her for her past experience and what she brings to the table. How far back into the stone ages does this take our gender? Sara please stop and think about what you are doing to us. I am an Alaskan but embarrassed to see what is going on and you have blinders on.

Anonymous said...

I have not heard anything about policy from the RNC. All the speeches were geared to what McCain has done (military service, senate record, etc.), but nothing on what he plans to do to bring about the change. He talks of partisanship? Wasn't the REPUBS incharge of congress for 6 years under Bush, and DEMS only hold a slight majority unable to break Bush's veto. If he needs to talk about partisanship he needs to look within his own party. NO wonder that kept saying don't look at the party but look at the candidates. Because seeing an "R" reminds people of the last 8 horrible years. Palin's speech had no policy substance. It looked more like a cutdown session on a 5th grade playground. I guess when you have no policy issues to stand on, cutdowns will do.

Alice said...

Alice said...
I misjudged Governor Palin. I thought she had class. Instead she demonstrated that she is nothing but another Republican, spewing evil against those that have given so much to this country.

She attempted to castrate Senator Obama. For years Black Americans have endured the hatred of many Whites against them. I do not appreciate any White, especially a White Woman attempting to castrate any man of color. Slavery is over! This female insulted every community leader/organizer from Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Fredrick Douglas, Mary McCloud Bethune, and Mother Rosa Parks to men and women today yet working hard in community ventures. The work of these community organizers and leaders is what allows Palin to enjoy her success.

She may be a woman but she is not a lady and deserves only the disrespect she spewed upon Senator Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, the Democratic Party and all community leaders. Further she has brought God into her mess, by mocking Senator Obama with God through Moses parting the Red Sea.

Governor Palin, I hope you remember what happened to Pharaoh and his army.

This woman is not fit to be the Vice President. I will never vote for her and Senator McCain. She has disgraced her people, women and all people.

Brett said...

"I now intend to vote for McCain. I feel like she has added the needed energy and non-politician type personality that this country has been looking for."

You're joking, right, Lou? This woman is nothing if not political, from her use of divisive Republican "wedge" tactics to become Mayor, to her abuses of her authority and the use of oil rent to bribe voters rather than actually investing it in something useful (not to mention taking out debt during this period to boot! I guess she doesn't want to stand out among petrostates world-wide).

As for the speech, I think it was pathetic delivery and worse content. She sounded shrill, not electrifying. And her speech was filled with lies, including that Obama has never passed a major bill even while in the Senate - nevermind his ethics reform bill with Senator Coburn or his Non-Proliferation Bill with Senator Lugar.

Sadly, Anthony, I don't have as much faith in voters as you do. The threshold of incompetence seems to be higher for Republicans these days; it took an utterly catastrophic hurricane and even more incompetent response to drive down Republican poll numbers back before 2006. I doubt this kind of divisiveness on her part is going to do that by itself.

Alice said...

Palin is no Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, women and the American people are not stupid. They can see that this is an attempt to gain their support by placing a woman on the Republican ticket. Woe be unto us if we again fail our children. Woe unto us if we listen to Religious people who refuse to vote for a candidate who is "pro-life." Hypocrites they are. From the Garden of Eden to now, it is God who gave mankind the right of CHOICE. How dare anyone take from another, that God has given. Are you more than God? God could make us do anything that he wants us to do, but he does not want robots. At the same time God has given us choice, he also told us the payment for our actions depending on our choices.

I am "pro-choice," and my choice is life, because I do not believe in abortion. In this same vein, them in knowing what others have the same rights that I have, and that is to choose. How dare you condemn someone for an abortion and you turn around and murder the doctor who performed the abortion. Didn't the same word of God say in the 10 Commandments, "Thou shalt not kill?" How self-righteous some people are. None of us are perfect. I can further prove this, the "Religious Right" voted Bush in to office not once but twice.

Furthermore, if Senator Barack Obama was not part Black, we would not be having this discussion.

I hope the young people rise up and take their future out of the hands of the "old guard," before the world they are trying to conquer, rise up and destroy all of us. After all, who better will the people of the world listen to than someone who represent opression is and wanting peace and not to conquer the world, but the hearts of the people of the world.

I marched with Dr. King as a child and resident of Montgomery, Alabama. I know what segregation does to a people and eventually if you don't take your foot off my throat, I will help you remove it.

All of us need to learn to work together down here or we will never be allowed to take our corruption in God's heavenly places.

My soul and my children's are not for sale.

Alice said...

Palin is good at playing on the emotions of people, as is Republicans and hitting below the belt then holding up a sign that said you can't hit a woman.

This female will use any tactics to get elected, from holding up children to appealing to womens sympathy. I can hit you but you are being disrespectful, because a man shouldn't strike a woman. Then she better keep her hands to herself.

When you enter the arena and act like a man, expect to be treated like a man. If you hit me in my face and attempt to hide behind being a woman, you are butt out of luck. Then again, my sister has two hands. Maybe I will allow her to punch you back in your gut.

I term you a person with "Lying Lips and Quivering Hips." CR A.B. People with "Lying Lips and Quivering hips keep people spell bound as the deceive the foolish. Without their knowing, they are being led to the slaughter. Beward of parasites.

Brian said...

She may prove to be a good choice for McCain to get elected. Ms. Palin will certainly help the McCain team receive more attention. However, it may not be good for the lower part of the ticket to be in the spotlight more. Everyone is combing through stuff on her-the Obama campaign is even going through the Wasilla council meetings. The Enquirer says they know of at least 1 extra-marital affair and I've read others are saying she also had an affair with someone from the coroners office. People's private affairs are not my concern-it seems almost a pre-requisite for Republicans, err, the values party, to have cheated on their spouse these days. I go back to what difference the person will make for the people of the country. Quite frankly, Sarah Palin scares me with her belief creationism should be taught in school. I do like the bill the Alaska legislature passed with her support last year to tax wind fall profits on oil companies. The US congress should do the same, and put the money toward alternative fuels and eventually have no need to import oil.

C. Freeland said...

Palin’s speech was unnecessarily derogatory and ultimately unstatesmanlike. She established an identity for herself at the expense of someone else, instead of focusing on critical issues that require nuance and working with all viewpoints. Her extreme views on abortion – denying women the right to choose in case of rape or at the expense of a woman’s life – is nothing less than misogyny. Palin lacks credibility because her approach to complex issues lacks nuance and does not translate to the broader context of national and international politics. In short her politics are more appropriate for 1908, not 2008.

Anonymous said...

Does the nomination of Gov. Palin make me consider voting for the GOP? If Gov. Palin were a Democrat, I would be more likely to believe her 'street cred'. The GOP tract record in bringing grounded populists to lead is poor. The last GOP candidate with ovaries to spring from obscurity to national attention was from Fl. (Sec. State). She was a disaster there for the Democrats and the people of FL. The GOP, initially, elevated her to a national election as thanks for her help in defeating Gore. They also dropped her when she became a liability. The problem with her from my perspective, was not that she helped defeat Gore, but the tactics and methods she used. These tactics have been used and are still being used by the Republicans nation-wide. The GOP is basically an elitist party. It believes in victory at any cost. They have no interest in the middle class unless the middle class believes in the GOP. The notion of growing democracy and growing opportunity are alien to them unless they see it as a short term position statement to achieve their main agenda: the wealthy and powerful deserve to rule. I have heard main stream Republican state the voting rights should be linked to income: the more you earn the more votes you should have. They believe the ‘poor’ should have no right to vote because the ‘pay no taxes’.

They use tactics (and don't tell me both parties do this - because it just isn't true) which are closer to anarchy (Nixon's Plumbers and Carl Rove's). They even smear candidates in his own party (John McCain-04) in order to get Bush elected. How could McCain stay in that party, and cozy up to Bush later in his administration? This shows how desperate he is to be elected. The GOP has publically declared that the wealthy elite are their base (Bush). Because of this they 1) do not believe in the inalienable equality of men (woman), and 2) that policies should be established which solidify their position and power. The Bush administration is the living epitome of what the GOP stands for: denial of civil rights, illegal wiretapping, reigning in public protest, punishing whistle-blowing, lying to the public to deceive Congress and the Public, lying over and over again in distorted government reports to deceive the public about public policy, tax laws to perpetuate their growing affluence (growing gap between rich and poor) and power, government spending which favors the few over the many, use no-bid contracts and cronyism as favors, destruction of the potential of effective government to ‘prove’ the government is ineffective.

These reasons and more have made it impossible for this Independent to vote for a Republican to national office, I may still make exceptions for local office. Anyone who says they are a Democrat, or leans democratic, or identifies themselves as an American first, cannot trust a Republican in national office. How can you trust your vote to a Republican to rule Government, when they believe that Government is the problem. If Palin had thoughts or predispositions favorable to democratic teachings and policies, let her change parties, then I might consider voting for her…..after all the questions about lying and flip-flops are addressed.

Finally, to state with a straight face that she has the executive experience which sets her apart from the others and strengthens the GOP ticket: ludicrous.

Sorry this was so long.

DB said...

In the case of this election, these undecided and independent voters were looking for a reason to vote for John McCain.

Yep. I simply don't understand what is going on in the McCain camp anymore, it's almost as if he doesn't have control of the campaigns message anymore. McCain had the middle tied down way early, but has lost his way by not being himself and I think the fact that the independents are pushing away is evidence enough.

Bonnie said...

If you enjoyed Dan Quayle, you're going to love Palin! Further evidence we're facing another Bush-style presidency. In order to leave a legacy, Sarah Palin, as Mayor, literally stole Alaskan land to build a sports arena. The judicial system ordered her,years later, to properly compensate the individuals for this illegally seized property. Unfortunately, by this time Palin was already out of office and left this financial burden to be dealt with to the residents of the town.

To avoid a conflict of interest, Todd Palin, her husband, resigned his position with BP Oil while Sarah Palin was campaigning for office. Shortly after the election, Todd returned to his previous position, something he promised not to do because of the sensitive business dealings the oil companies maintained with the state of Alaska. As the town mayor, the first order on her agenda was to meet with the town council about removing certain books from the public library which Palin found offensive to her religious ideals. The Head Librarian, opposing government censorship of any kind refused to comply with this order. The next logical step for Palin, was to remove and terminate this individual to advance her conservative religious views.
Sarah Palin, a strong advocate for Republican-style family values supported a pro-life, religious conservative to succeed her in office over her mother-in-law, Faye Palin who was registered as unaffiliated and promoted abortion rights. Favoring slashing taxes for the wealthiest in this great land of ours, Palin pursued raising sales taxes during her reign as mayor. Sales taxes are the most regressive of all, since they unfairly burdens the poorest in our society.
We as a nation are potentially facing another Reagan/ Bush style right-wing presidency. Sarah Palin brings similar credentials to the White House as the late president Reagan. Both candidates are former sports announcers and television personalities, a vital trait to lead this country.

In order to prevent the polar bear from becoming extinct it was recently added to the endangered species list by the federal government. Palin totally opposed this action since she believed strongly it will interfere with oil drilling rights in Alaska.

All of the above information is verifiable, factual and obtained from reliable sources.

Vote Democratic, Always!

Anonymous said...

All Palin did was freak me out. I sent more money to Obama. The thought of the possibility that this person could become the next vp or president is scarey. I thought that the speech she gave was horrifying. And the people at the convention were like a nazi mob.

Rosalind V. Taylor, Washington DC said...

Response to "community organizers having no responsibilities:
Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hammer and the McCain and Obama campaign workers are good community organizers and no doubt have important responsibilities.

Rosalind V.Taylor, Washington, DC

Silence Dogood said...

Lou, I tend to agree with Anthony's assessment on this, and not as a rabid partisan but from an object stand point it is important to point out that this was her pinnacle grand openning to most of the nation and it came off as probably pretty snarky and barbed and not too gracious. The attack on Obama as a "community organizer" vs. her as a mayor was particularly so since her being mayor is one of her two crowing moments of experience and why her more scripted advocates argue she is experience enough to be President. On the other hand, I have never heard Obama tout his time as a community organizer as experience that makes him worthy to be President. If she had compared being mayor of a small town to heading up a Senate Committe or running a several hundred million dollar national campaign or running a Senate office of 40-50 staffers, O.K. that's fine, and I don't know what people may judge on that basis, but those are more the things Obama is pinning his hopes on. He also graduated from highschool and I am sure she could have lampooned him for graduating from highschool vs. being a governor of a state with 650,000 people, but again, Obama has not made that a central theme of why to pick him. He has run more on change, his personal judgement, and the limited experience he does have. I believe Palin came off as angry to most voters, which was not a good debut. For other to do so in one speech was not big deal as they already had a national reputation from many other speeches. This was her first impression for most, and I think she blew her chance with many moderates.

Anonymous said...

Why do we allow these neocons suurogates like CNN King, Bernett & FOX parade LIES AND HYPOCRISY in the media.Wake UP America!!Palin is just another one of the same family of leopards the media is praising high as "RNC ROCK STAR". Did her records actually match this stardom? Why not rename RNC, the republican house of LIES and Rubbish {RHLR}!!!!!

Reginald Harrison Williams said...

Personally, I am unimpressed with Sarah Palin. I'm a conservative Democrat. Other than former Senator Lincoln Chaffee, John McCain was one of the few GOP Senators that I somewhat liked.

His choosing of Palin as his VP running mate, though, is just...mysterious, especially after her somewhat mean-spirited speech she gave at the GOP Convention.

Ask yourself this? With McCain being 73 and with a real possibility of him taking ill due to his age, would you feel confident in Sarah Palin taking over as President?

It just made more sense for McCain to choose a more seasoned woman like Elizabeth Dole of NC or even Kay Hutchinson of Texas.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

All these folks aint really saying nothing about the issues, Obma is a little tiny bit, but it seems like Palin and McCain just mantra stealing when they need to talk about N. Korea rebuilding nukes like North Korea has fallen off the map

Thomas said...

There has been some talk out there about how John McCain is shamelessly pandering to women (particularly depressed Hillary Clinton supporters) by picking a woman, Sarah Palin, as his vice-president. Obviously, John McCain must think that women are too stupid to see the difference between a Hillary Clinton and a Sarah Palin. How dare John McCain try to trick women into voting for a conservative woman, these people posit. In making this accusation against John McCain, these people have homogenized women, more so than McCain has done.

The people pushing the "McCain pandering to women" theory assert that Hillary supporters will never become Palin supporters because the two women disagree on abortion. I guess that the only issue that women, all women, care about is abortion and that they are all pro-choice. My mom marched at pro-life rallies. Was she not a woman? Hillary Clinton supports abortion rights but has also said that she wants abortions to be "safe, legal, and rare." She supports reducing the number of abortions. As does Palin. As do most people, I assume. (I don't think I know too many people who say, "I hope I get pregnant just so I can have an abortion.") Abortion is a very divisive issue but that is room for a lot of common ground. I predict that the "reducing abortions now" plank is the common ground most of us will end up on.

What I suspect is going on here is that opponents of John McCain are angry that he has made a legitimate claim on the "change" message sweeping the land. The typical Republican vice-president choice would have been an angry, rich white guy like Mitt Romney. (Romney would have guaranteed a Republican loss.) That McCain chose a contemporary of Barack Obama's shows that Obama's message of change is resonating with people. Palin is a true Washington outsider, the only one out of the four people running for president and vice-president. Isn't that what the people of this country have been demanding? Why is it a bad thing that McCain is listening to what we want?

I would have thought the idea that both parties were embracing change would be a good thing. Do Barack Obama and his supporters want "more of the same old politics" from John McCain just so they will have a guaranted victory in November? How would that be good for the country as a whole? Why is "change" that comes from Obama always a good thing but "change" coming from an opponent of Obama automatically suspect?

Anybody want to join me in dropping out of all this?

Silence Dogood said...

Thomas, to my chagrin, and perhaps yours as well, it appears women were not as smart as you expected to "not be fooled" by Palin. McCain's surge in popular polls past Obama after choosing Palin consist almost entirely of being behind Obama by a margin of minus 12 points with women voter to being ahead of him by 8 points with women voters.

Here's the rub and why Palin scares the hell out of me (but might not in 60 days). It is not a religious zealot thing, it is not a seperatist Alaska party thing or any other rumors about her that could or could not be true. It is the fact that she is a textbook movie version of the Marchian candidate. All I just mentioned are rumors, and nobody knows what she thinks for certain in the lower 48 because she has not been unscripted once yet in the almost two weeks since we have met her in this campain and with about 55 days left to go I don't know if I will meet who may likely end up being the next President of the United States and that actually scares me.

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