Sarah Palin’s Convention Speech

I’ll have more thoughts tomorrow on the text of the speech but my quick impressions were that it was well written and superbly delivered.   Palin managed to juggle all the balls nicely:  She was simultaneously folksy and smart, delivering attack lines while remaining charming, funny and poignant. Certainly, if one hadn’t known otherwise, one wouldn’t have suspected this was her first significant speech to a national audience.

This was a fine introduction to the American public and one that will likely help assauge doubts about her readiness.  She’s more than passed the “laugh test.”  But there’s still two months of campaigning ahead. One speech won’t be enough.

Ultimately, even with a 72-year-old at the head of the ticket, the vice president will be an afterthought for most voters. After tonight, though, it’s looking like, at the very least, she won’t be a drag.

Update (Robert): Like James, I was very impressed with the speech. She seemed a little wobbly in the beginning — only briefly — and there was too much talk about her kids, but this speech did what it needed to do.

Unlike James, I was excited that she was chosen, if for no other reason than to shake up the race, which was not going McCain’s way. Then the revelation about her daughter surfaced. This nauseated me almost as much as Hurricane Gustav, which I had to run from, being in New Orleans and all.

After the speech, I feel much better.

Update (Robert again): Mini roundup here: Volokh (here and here); Pharyngula (here); TigerHawk (here); and, TalkLeft (here).

Over at TalkLeft, it appears that Jeralyn has gone off the rails over Palin (keep scrolling). I usually find Jeralyn to be level headed, but not these days.

On another note, when I hear Geraldine Ferraro’s name I can’t help but think of Dennis Miller’s comment about twenty years ago saying it reminded him of “Flip Wilson’s sports car”.

Update (Alex Knapp) I thought that the speech did what it needed to do–namely, introduce Sarah Palin to the country and assure Republicans that she can string two sentences together. She delivered as well as could be expected, considering it frankly wasn’t that well written. I will say this, though–she was most excited and enjoyable when she talked about her own family and her record. She seemed oddly flat and distant when she made attacks.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    Well written yes. “superbly” delivered? Have to question that. He cadence is odd, and she was eyeballing the teleprompter much more heavily than people generally do at this level. Not a bad performance though, considering the distance between where she is now and Alaska.

    Was a bit surprise that it was so base-driven, I am not sure that I see any outreach to independents or Hillary Dems. I would have preferred something less divisive, I am tired of GOP divide an conquer politics. Its not good for the country.

    Also interesting to note her husband is a union member. The GOP has waged war on unions in this country for 8 years.

    Worth remembering, among all the praise for vets at this convention, that the GOP savaged John Kerry, Vietnam veteran, four years ago. Its not about honoring service, its about political advantage.

  2. I would have preferred something less divisive, I am tired of GOP divide an conquer politics. Its not good for the country.

    And of course, the Democrats did none of this last week. It’s tiring from my perspective to keep hearing these kind of comments when everybody knows damn well that it’s done by both sides.

  3. G.A.Phillips says:

    She just smoked Slickwilly Jr in so many more ways then just being a charm spell casting orator that some presidential candidates might start becoming after thought me thinks.

  4. […] I agree with James Joyner, that this speech is likely to end any serious talk about whether she should stay on the ticket: This was a fine introduction to the American public and one that will likely help assauge doubts […]

  5. anjin-san says:

    everybody knows damn well that it’s done by both sides.

    To a certain extent, yes. But the GOP has taken negative politics to a new level during the Bush (starting with Atwater & GWB) era.

    I often tell people I am a Democrat because they are less corrupt, less violent, less stupid and less mean than Republicans. Does not mean that I don’t think Democrats have those qualities.

    My main takeaway from the speech was that I was a bit surprised by the mean spiritedness of it. I thought McCain was the guy who said the culture wars had to end for the good of the country. Guess that goes out the window when they can help him into the oval office.

  6. Perhaps the nastiest, most divisive speech on a national stage since Pat Buchanan’s culture war speech in 1992.

    Amazingly contemptuous.

    The Democrats did nothing like that last week. You need to go someplace like DailyKos to find a similar level of venom.

    She was tremendously effective. It is just sad that she seems to have devoted her talents to such a negative approach.

  7. anjin-san says:

    (starting with Atwater & GWB)

    I meant to say GHW Bush…

  8. Bernard,

    Complete garbage. I saw Buchanan’s speech and was revolted. Palin’s speech was normal political hard ball.

    Political campaigns always send the B.S. meter through the roof, as evidenced by your comment. Earlier today I heard some moron from the Obama camp going on about “record” unemployment and “record” inflation. Both of these are higher than I would like, but there is nothing “record” about them. Such is the nature of truth in a political campaign.

  9. The panties are now officially bunched.

    I feel bad for the ugliness Sarah Palin and her family are going to have to endure. Any chance the angry Left would rather lose an election than their souls?

  10. Robert:

    Her speech was snarling and mean-spirited. It was full of lies and falsehoods. It was an out-and-out hatchet job. It was well done, but a drive-by shooting nonetheless. The fact that you can’t see that is sort of sad and speaks ill of you.

    I agree there is nothing record about unemployment or inflation, btw, and I do wonder which “moron” you saw speak. It had become a staple of conservative commentators to ascribe the views of any perceived left-of-center person as being indicative of the “Obama camp.” I am sure, however, that you were referring to an actual spokesman, so finding a citation should be easy enough. Care to link to it?

  11. Angry left? You dare recycle that line after tonight? Rudy and Palin weren’t angry?

    There were no speeches like this at the DNC. None.

  12. I guess the answer is no, eh Bernard?

  13. John Burgess says:

    I thought the speech a little rough at the start, but truly excellent after that.

    I’m more than bemused by the faux outrage in some comments above about the ‘negativity’ of her speech. Oh, really? Then you’d best start wearing a cup for the rest of the campaign season. I’m simply not ready to take any whining from the group that goes around talking about “Chimpymchitlerbush”. Kos isn’t part of the Democratic apparatus? Sure fooled me… but actually, you didn’t.

    I think this speech settled all the qualms that some Republicans were feeling. I absolutely look forward to the debate with Biden.

    I am also–to my shame–looking forward to the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments that will be forthcoming when The One does not win the election. Well, actually, no, I’m not looking forward to that. It’ll just be four more years of whining and blubbing and name-calling. I’m getting to old for that.

  14. jeff says:

    Biden is going to absolutely take Palin to the woodshed after tonight. Before her speech, it was obvious that the Obama/Biden campaign was laying off Palin, and not making public comments about her. But Palin just walked out there on national television and skipped directly to DEFCON 1. There’s no reason for Biden to hold back now. He can’t be perceived as being mean spirited or “beating up a girl” after Palin’s speech tonight. She just delivered the political version of Bush’s infamous, ill-considered “bring it on” speech. I doubt that she’s prepared for the bringing.

    And really, there’s so much to attack here. Just in her own speech were a number of outright lies (a repeat of the lie about the Bridge to Nowhere, for instance) and the mean-spirited put down of “community organizers”, many of whom are the church elders that supposedly make up the Republican base. That’s on top of the half dozen solid lines of attack open to Obama/Biden against Palin’s record, starting with her ridiculous resume and moving on from there to the library scandal, the police scandal, the book burning scandal, the earmarks, her support of Alaskan secession, climate change denial, creationism, Ted Steven’s 527 campaign, ignorance-only sex education, not to mention her inability to run her own family and her knocked-up daughter.

    In short: it’s on.

  15. Boyd says:

    Jeff: You’re delusional.

    If Biden were to attack Palin as if she were a man, it might be a different story. But she’s a woman, and for a wide variety of reasons, he’s going to come out of any and all VP debates wondering what the Hell he got hit with.

  16. I guess the answer is no for you too, eh Jeff?

    Is it possible for some of the cretins to understand you can oppose someone’s politics without having to discuss their children. Jumpin’ bejeebus, have you no shame?

  17. jeff says:

    Whatever, chuck austin. Palin didn’t make a policy speech. She delivered a long attack screed, implying that Obama thinks he’s Moses, stating that Obama wants to throw the fight in Iraq, and then lying her ass off about Obama’s tax plan. There’s absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing at all, that can be off the table after a performance like that. She just invited a massive retaliatory strike.

  18. jeff says:

    Compare and contrast. Biden on McCain:

    “You know, John McCain is my friend, and I know you hear that phrase used all the time in politics. I mean it. John McCain is my friend. We’ve traveled the world together. It’s a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism demonstrated by John still amazes me.”

    Palin on Obama:

    “This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word “victory” except when he’s talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed … when the roar of the crowd fades away … when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot – what exactly is our opponent’s plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger … take more of your money … give you more orders from Washington … and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world. America needs more energy … our opponent is against producing it. “

    When you go this negative, you can’t go back.

  19. anjin-san says:

    Lots of bile. Not a word about repairing the economy. Perhaps the GOP has no idea how to fix the economy because they are the ones who broke it.

  20. anjin-san says:

    If Biden were to attack Palin as if she were a man, it might be a different story. But she’s a woman, and for a wide variety of reasons, he’s going to come out of any and all VP debates wondering what the Hell he got hit with.

    Boyd you seem to be forgetting that the Obama campaign defeated a woman who is a bit more formidable than Sara Palin.

  21. TJIT says:

    anjin-san,

    You said,

    Boyd you seem to be forgetting that the Obama campaign defeated a woman who is a bit more formidable than Sara Palin.

    You seem to be forgetting that Obama is supposed to be running against mccain not palin.

    The fact that obama is having to prove himself against the VP on the republican ticket is an interesting twist. That and the fact that the comparisons aren’t clear cut in his favor says interesting things about the upcoming campaign.

  22. ben says:

    I’m surprised at how positive the reception has been for Palin’s speech. Not great, IMO. She was fine when playing the “small town girl” and “hockey mom” but was painfully awkward talking about foreign policy, when it was clear that she had no idea what she was talking about.

    As for the media’s focus on Palin’s daughter, yeah it sucks, but don’t pretend like the “angry left” are the only ones who’d resort to those tactics. Imagine if Obama had a 17 year old pregnant daughter. Jeez, I’m sure NO ONE on the right would scrutinize that at all.

  23. anjin-san says:

    Tj…

    I said:

    Obama campaign

    Read more carefully please.

    The Obama campaign already dealt with a tougher woman than Palin. If you want to tell yourself that they can’t handle her, go for it. It will take your mind off the fact that McCain has no plan for the economy beyond “more of the same”.

  24. JKB says:

    Sarah Palin was great tonight. This speech will fire up the flyover states as well as the Republican base.

    If you want to keep underestimating her, I suggest you go read some of the comments from those who did that in Alaska. You do it at your on risk.

    Keep going after the family but a bit of advice. When you anger a bear, don’t keep poking at it. Obama has a fair chance of ending up draped over her couch, if not, he and Biden will be bloodied for sure. They may not be directly responsible for the attacks but taking Obama and Biden’s pelts is the best way to destroy those who are.

  25. Richard Gardner says:

    What a great scripted political piece, but what is most impressive is how well she read the teleprompter for her first national speech (my video sometimes showed her teleprompter screen). I have zero doubt that the first half of her speech was really her personal input before she went into the boilerplate attacks.

    I wonder what McCain said to the bewildered Levi Johnson (fiancée to Palin’s oldest daughter) as he looked like a deer in the headlights. Poor dude.

    Hatchet job? I assume you’ve never been in politics, or are being sarcastic.

    The Republicans have repositioned to the lower and middle – middle class. A husband racing snow machines?

  26. Bernard:

    Her speech was snarling and mean-spirited. It was full of lies and falsehoods. It was an out-and-out hatchet job. It was well done, but a drive-by shooting nonetheless. The fact that you can’t see that is sort of sad and speaks ill of you.

    Damn man, you’re worse than The Princess and the Pea: you can feel an insult through 100 mattresses if you think the speech was all that malicious.

    I’ll give you credit: there was one lie that I’m aware of: the Bridge to Nowhere. It’s similar to Kerry’s “for it before he was against it” bit.

    Palin was responding to criticism that she didn’t have enough experience when she jumped on his community organizer job. Would you have preferred that she left it to surrogates rather than doing it herself? VP candidates are attack dogs.

    I should also add that what she said about Obama and the word victory is correct: he has no interest in victory in Iraq because of his base.

    Having said all that, I like Obama and if the Democrats didn’t control Congress, I would probably vote for him. It is odd, though, that you don’t see the garbage that is thrown in each direction and act surprised when it’s done to Democrats.

  27. Brendan says:

    If you want to keep underestimating her, I suggest you go read some of the comments from those who did that in Alaska. You do it at your on risk.

    JKB,

    Out of curiosity, did you learn nothing from the Democratic primary season? The media narrative notwithstanding (because, in the end, it didn’t matter), Obama, to whom Palin unfavorably referred as a community organizer, out-organized possibly the best political machine the left has seen from any politician not named Kennedy. Hillary Clinton walked into a sure-fire nomination (and probably presidential win), and she left bloodied and beaten (though with her head held high). This happened because almost everyone underestimated Obama’s ability to organize.

    Claim all you want that Palin is being underestimated right now. But the more you build her up, the greater expectations are laid upon her. Frankly, if she turns out to be anything less than a Christianist Ronald Reagan, I think many on the right are going to be disappointed. Trust me — I’m not underestimating her. But don’t you think it’s possible that the right is overestimating her? I ask only because I guarantee that 85% of the people claiming now that they love her probably hadn’t even heard of her a week ago.

  28. anjin-san says:

    Keep going after the family but a bit of advice.

    Can you show some examples of this? The “going after the family”? I am hearing a lot of noise about it, but really have not seen any evidence. A few posts by bottom feeders on blogs, but that is about it. It seems like rhetoric targeting people who are too lazy to actually do the homework.

    Why does the GOP feel it is necessary for Palin to play the victim? She seems like a bright, capable person who if fairly tough. Is victim the only role they can see for a woman?

  29. rodney dill says:

    A good speech by Palin. I think it will allay more of the concerns of the general populace than ‘angry left’ thinks it will. (then again how much of the general populace actually watched the speech?)

    As far as the angry left comments back here at OTB? Its SSDD.

  30. sam says:

    For an interesting take on Palin’s performance and prospects, see Nate Silver’s piece, Cognitive Dissonance, at fivethirtyeight.com.

  31. […] commentary on the speech last night from various places, all of it postive, Q&O (Here, too) and OTB to name two places quickly)  and yet Memeorandum hasn’t touched the […]

  32. G.A.Phillips says:

    I feel bad for the ugliness Sarah Palin and her family are going to have to endure. Any chance the angry Left would rather lose an election than their souls?

    You have to have a soul to lose it, same goes for principles,class,Judgment, common sense, and honor.

    Me thinks the panties are not only bunched but full of donkey pewp at the moment.

  33. G.A.Phillips says:

    She was tremendously effective. It is just sad that she seems to have devoted her talents to such a negative approach.

    you confuse the negative approach with the truth, as your kind always confuses the truth with the negative approach.

  34. Hal says:

    Good to see the Republicans fired up out of their doldrums. I was wondering if the democrats were going to win this thing without a fight. Glad to see that the republicans are back to being cocky, supremely confident and full of righteous anger at the evil left, I feel much better about the state of affairs.

    It’d hardly be a presidential election in the US without a full tilt culture war, now would it? Who knows, maybe the evangelical base will come out swinging again like the good old days.

  35. Rick DeMent says:

    A couple of serious comments for a change:

    Given the fact that close to 75% of the US population lives in urban areas how is it that the small town \ small state, homogeneous life experience of Palin is relevant to leading a nation that is demographically large and urban? The “community” that Obama organized was Chicago’s south side, a place with more people then the entire state of Alaska and a demographic more in line with a majority of people who live in the US. Tell me exactly how Palin’s experience will serve her in governing a country that is overwhelmingly urban and multi-cultural.

  36. Hal says:

    Rick, it really has nothing to do with objective reality. Rather, it’s myth building and narrative. One of the lovely myths that the right seems incapable of resisting is the whole small town mythos. I personally think that this particular narrative has long since played itself out, but perhaps it hasn’t.

    WRT small town/ small state experience vis a vis the overwhelmingly urban and multi-cultural reality it’s again playing to the maverick meme. There’s nothing the right seems to like better than the idea that the small town outsider can take those city folk to task and bring them to heel. It’s straight out of Disney or something similar, but it’s all basically narrative building – masterfully done, I must say.

    The question, of course, is whether it will all do more than just fire up the base. Firing up the base is a big deal and as I said, they seem to have gotten their second wind and seem ready to go out and knock heads and beat up the liberals again like they used to feel like doing all the time. But the question remains as to whether they can win this election purely on a base play or do they actually need disaffected democrats and independents.

    If it’s the latter, it’s difficult to see how Palin does anything for that scenario. I guess on some level, they’re counting on her in the attack dog role to start knocking Obama down to size which gets them…. I’m not sure what because they still have to get the disaffected dems and independents which would seem unlikely to be swayed by just savage attacking – again, red meat for the base is not milk for the middle.

    But, game on! Going to be interesting to see what tone McCain strikes and what path he charts tonight.

  37. brainy435 says:

    “He [sic] cadence is odd, and she was eyeballing the teleprompter much more heavily than people generally do at this level.”

    2 points:

    1) The teleprompter was erroneously not stopped for applause lines, so she gave a majority of the speech from memory.

    2) Obama can’t string 2 coherent sentances together without a teleprompter.

    That’s one of the great thing about Palin- she’s unnerved the left so much that they’re damaging their own nominee while flopping around looking for an attack that will stick on her.

  38. Hal says:

    so she gave a majority of the speech from memory.

    Wow, how quickly the meme spreads. Unfortunately for you, we have an eyewitness that states otherwise.

    Perhaps there were moments where it scrolled slightly past her exact point in the speech. But I was sitting in the press section next to the stage, within easy eyeshot of the teleprompter. I frequently looked up at the machine, and there was no serious malfunction. A top convention-planner confirms this morning that there were no major problems.

  39. […] Bernard Finel, writing in the comments of my instant reaction post last night, wrote, […]

  40. […] over CNN’s commentators last night continuing to point out the Matthew Scully wrote Sarah Palin’s VP acceptance speech when nobody bothered to point out that Obama, Joe Biden, and others didn’t exactly write […]

  41. brainy435 says:

    You’re right, HAL, memes DO spread quickly. And apparantly the people who spread them do not bother with updates:
    “The Politico, which hasn’t exactly had a track record of accurate reporting, contradicts the broken teleprompter story.

    But, MSNBC and Fox both report that there were problems with the teleprompter. They were, as I described them, that the teleprompter kept scrolling past Governor Palin’s stopping point during applause, forcing her to rely on notes and memory.”

  42. Hal says:

    A top convention-planner confirms this morning that there were no major problems.

    I guess you’re calling that person a liar, right?

  43. anjin-san says:

    so she gave a majority of the speech from memory.

    Is that why she was staring at the teleprompter thru the whole speech? I don’t know that I have ever seen someone eyeball it quite that hard.

  44. brainy435 says:

    “A top convention-planner confirms this morning that there were no major problems.

    I guess you’re calling that person a liar, right?”

    Who, exactly, would that be? Would they be in a position to know? Does this person, in fact, exist?

    I will take the word of 2 different media sources over some annonymous source from Politico.

  45. anjin-san says:

    Interesting that the GOP wants to endlessly debate the minutia of Obama’s legislative record.

    But not surprising when you consider A. The train wreck results of 8 years of GOP leadership. B. The fact that they have no plan beyond more of the same.

  46. […] speech wasn’t as funny as Sarah Palin’s and his delivery wasn’t as good as Obama’s. Despite having delivered big […]

  47. […] comments, as well as some of my colleagues’, on Palin and McCain’s Convention […]

  48. brainy435 says:

    http://blog.eyeblast.tv/?p=76

    Then again, maybe the unnamed source was correct. As of now, I stand corrected.

    anjin, funny how you can continuously accuse the GOP od having no plan despite years of being proven wrong, yet still thow your support to a man who has never done a damn thing but run his mouth.

  49. Hal says:

    As of now, I stand corrected.

    I really wish y’all would remember that when y’all start the fire breathing and spewing sulfur and brimstone.

    There’s lot of talk about civility and argumentation and lecturing from the other quarter, and yet…