Campaign 2008, Politics

The Lesson Of Sarah Palin

Ross Douthat has the best take on the Sarah Palin brouhaha out there:

Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard…

Here are lessons of the Sarah Palin experience, for any aspiring politician who shares her background and her sex. Your children will go through the tabloid wringer. Your religion will be mocked and misrepresented. Your political record will be distorted, to better parody your family and your faith. (And no, gentle reader, Palin did not insist on abstinence-only sex education, slash funds for special-needs children or inject creationism into public schools.)

Male commentators will attack you for parading your children. Female commentators will attack you for not staying home with them. You’ll be sneered at for how you talk and how many colleges you attended. You’ll endure gibes about your “slutty” looks and your “white trash concupiscence,” while a prominent female academic declares that your “greatest hypocrisy” is the “pretense” that you’re a woman. And eight months after the election, the professionals who pressed you into the service of a gimmicky, dreary, idea-free campaign will still be blaming you for their defeat.

All of this had something to do with ordinary partisan politics. But it had everything to do with Palin’s gender and her social class.

Douthat has it exactly right: Sarah Palin was despised by the left because she represents a culture that is alien to the left’s worldview. She’s a female, she’s attractive, she’s actively pro-life, she’s rural, she’s plain spoken, and she’s conservative. To the left, such a thing just should not be. She embodies values that stand in very clear contrast to those of the left, and were she to obtain national popularity she could be very influential.

The former governor was not prepared for the race in 2008, and the McCain campaign did an extremely poor job of preparing her for what she would face. Douthat is right that she would have been wise to turn down McCain’s offer, although it is understandable that she did not.

But, Douthat notes, Palin is still relatively popular. She has a net positive approval rating, even after 10 months of constant fire. If Palin wanted to return to politics—and perhaps she does not—a Sarah Palin that had spend some time learning policy and crafting her positions could still be a potent political force.

Right now the lesson of Sarah Palin is that if you’re not prepared for the national stage you will be eaten alive. But there is a possibility, however small, that the lesson down the road might very well be that counting Sarah Barricuda out is a very unwise idea.


VP Debate Thoughts

Joe Biden is losing this thing for Obama. He is coming off as a pretentious jerk.

Palin is not at all as polished as Biden, but she’s coming off as authentic. She doesn’t have full command of the debate, but she’s not just making things up like Biden has been all night.

All in all, this is a slaughter. Not necessarily because of what Palin is doing, but because Biden is coming off so badly.

McCain definitely made the right pick. Palin isn’t a polished Washington insider, which is precisely why she’s doing so well against Biden.

UPDATE: This isn’t a debate, this is a slaughter. Palin is walking all over Biden. Give that woman some time to develop experience, and she’ll be the first female President of the United States, and she’ll do an amazing job.

UPDATE: So Biden changed his mind from following the Constitution in selecting judicial appointments, to violating it through ravenous partisanship.

Those rumors about him stepping down tomorrow? They seem far more likely tonight.

UPDATE: Final thought before all the spin: Palin just wiped the floor with Biden tonight. It wasn’t even close. Biden had his moments, but there’s a reason why his presidential runs went over like lead balloons. Biden was pure Washington, Palin was pure Main Street. She performed brilliantly with a deck stacked against her, which for someone who has never done this before is quite a feat.

UPDATE: Frank Luntz’s focus group on Fox (which usually leans Democratic) seems to have LOVED Palin. By a huge margin. Her bit about personal responsibility lit up the dials. She was a hit with undecided voters. Luntz thinks that this will cause a huge movement in the polls. I think he’s right.

If McCain can capitalize on this, he can win.

UPDATE: CNN’s panel seemed to be roughly split between Biden and Palin. Which, correcting for media bias, means that Palin won convincingly.

Biden made some major gaffes. His position on judicial appointments was completely against the Constitution. He got basic legal issues wrong. Lawyers note those things. Joe Biden may be a nice guy in person, but he was terrible tonight. He came off as arrogant and meandering. Palin dodged some questions and clearly had some gaps in her knowledge. The difference is that knowledge about the world can be learned and developed. Having the ability to reach out to Americans in their own vernacular is a unique gift. Palin did what she had to do tonight, and she went far beyond the expectations placed upon her.


McCain/Palin In The Twin Cities

I am at the Twin Cities McCain/Palin rally. Lines are huge — big turnout. More later.

The hangar is packed, which is a good sign. Minnesota appears to be in play in this election. Could it go McCain? It seems unlikely, but a turnout like this is nothing to sneeze at. There is energy in this room today.

Something tells me that people really like Sarah Palin here….

There seems to be a lot of hockey moms here.

The Straight Talk Express is nearly here.

Judging from the crowd, McCain must be arriving. There’s a B-25 Mitchell blocking my view.

Clever sign watch: “We are lipstick-wearing pigs.”

McCain is in the building.

Sarah Palin is firing up the crowd, especially when talking about energy independence.

McCain is up. He seems stronger in person in person than on TV. He does not seem old at all.

McCain’s stump speech hit all the right notes — he talked about reform with conviction. More later.

Campaign 2008, Politics

Sarah Palin Was The Right Choice At The Right Time

We just saw the first female President of the United States give the first major speech of her national career.

Sarah Palin is the most natural political talent I’ve ever seen. Tonight, she very well may have won this election. She was strong, engaging, powerful, and unafraid. She went after Obama with the glee of a happy warrior. She set the tone for this campaign in a way that was strategically brilliant. She put the country on notice that if she didn’t know much about foreign policy, she’s a very quick study.

Her approach was natural, she spoke directly to the people. She is not the lofty rhetorician that Barack Obama is—but her style is uniquely American. Only she could have delivered that speech.

Throughout this election, Republicans have been looking for the next Ronald Reagan—another Great Communicator.

We found her.

Campaign 2008, Politics

Palin And The Politics Of Personal Destruction

Megan McArdle has an eminently sensible take on the whole Sarah Palin “scandal”. Needless to say, when someone like Ms. McArdle—who is an Obama supporter—is so disgusted with the left’s rhetoric, it signals that these juvenile and disgusting attacks are likely to backfire. As she puts it:

Sorry, I must have been confused. I thought I lived in a civilized society.

This is news, of course. But it is not particularly interesting news. It’s hardly the first shotgun wedding the world has ever witnessed, not even of a prominent politician’s daughter. It has basically nothing to do with her fitness to be the vice president. The people acting as if this matters deeply should be as ashamed of themselves as they claim to be of Sarah Palin’s behavior. …

On Sarah Palin as a VP I have no particular opinion, except that she doesn’t make me any more interested in voting for John McCain. But the people criticizing her are making me considerably less interested in voting for Obama. If this sort of deranged logic produces unwavering support for Obama, I have to question my own judgement.

The Kos crowd is playing with fire here. They have no idea—not even the faintest inkling of a clue—of just how badly all this will play for them. They honestly seem to think that all “values voters” match their stereotypes, and that the Palin issue is some kind of magic bullet against her.

Make no mistake: the left is afraid of Sarah Palin. They are afraid of having the most powerful woman in the country be a pro-life, pro-gun conservative. They cannot stand someone they view as not falling within their carefully-drawn definition of what a woman should think.

The depths they are plumbing to attack Gov. Palin and her family are not a sign of the weakness of the pick, they are a sign of abject terror. People in a position of strength don’t need to go after a 17-year-old girl to make their points.

They are afraid of what Gov. Palin means for this race—and they well should be.

Campaign 2008, Politics

The Media’s Manufactured Palin ‘Scandal’

Historian Daniel J. Boorstin coined the term “pseudo-event” for an event designed solely to attract the media and not for any other real value. The current brouhaha over Bristol Palin is an ideal example of just such a pseudo-event. Here in the Twin Cities, the Palin news is being met with little concern. Instead, the reaction has been one of support for Ms. Palin and her family.

Of course, if all one did is follow the media line, one would thing the exact opposite.

The Chicago Tribune breathlessly proclaims that the news has Republicans “off balance”. The New York Times proclaims that Gov. Palin must not have been properly vetted. Liberal bloggers are already gleefully calling for Palin to resign—apparently some think that a woman should know her place and that raising a family and having a career is impossible.

This pick has the Democratic Party scrambling. If they continue this line of attack it will backfire on them. Do they really want to make an issue out of a 17-year-old girl?

This whole affair is a pseudo-event. It was crafted by the liberal left to try to drive a wedge between evangelicals and McCain. It will fail precisely because the media is arrogant to think that evangelical and values voters are as intolerant as they parody them to be. It is without substance, and it is gutter politics. Even Sen. Obama, much to his credit, has said this should be off-limits.

Gov. Palin is being attacked because she is a principled conservative and a woman. It just burns the left that the first female Vice President—and someday perhaps the first female President—would be someone who doesn’t share their views. The rank sexism of the attacks against Gov. Palin and her family show just how far the media will go to discredit her.

This pseudo-event will fail. It will create a backlash, and here in the Twin Cities it already has. If the Democrats and their media organs think they can win by attacking a young girl at her most vulnerable, they could not be more wrong.

Campaign 2008, Politics

Palin Is A Hit

In other Sarah Palin-related news, ABC reports that the Palin pick has greatly energized GOP voters and caused McCain to have his best fundraising month yet. The Palin pick gave McCain an estimated $10 million in new contributions.

The Democrats were counting on a big enthusiasm gap, but the Palin pick has the GOP base excited. For those of us who have had Gov. Palin on our political radar screens, this is not a surprise. Gov. Palin is not only a strong pick because of her gender—she’s a strong pick because of what she has accomplished is Alaska. There’s a good reason why she had an 80% approval rating in a state with a strong independent streak.

Gov. Palin was an inspired pick, and it not only ensured that Obama got virtually no bump from the convention, but has made the GOP grassroots give a lot more respect to the McCain team.

Campaign 2008, Politics

The Fruits Of Netroots Hate

I’ve long argued that the “netroots” are not going to help the Democratic Party, and the evidence keeps mounting up. Today, one of Hillary’s top fundraisers publicly threw his support to McCain. His reasoning is especially interesting:

John Coale, a prominent Washington lawyer, husband of Fox TV host Greta Van Susteren and a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, announced today that he was supporting John McCain for president. Coale, who traveled with Sen. Clinton, President Clinton and her family through out the primary season, complained of sexism, and said the Democratic Party is “being taken over by the types” in an exclusive interview with’s Tammy Haddad.

The netroot’s war with Hillary exposed a level of hatred that was frequently disturbing. The sort of thing that they called Ann Coulter names for became common within the netroots. Any decency appears to go out the window for those who don’t toe the party line of the Kos/Olberman/ crowd. Even fellow Democrats are not immune.

If there is any doubt of the disgusting hyper-partisanship and rank sexism of the radical left today, just watch how they’re treating the pregnancy of Bristol Palin, Gov. Palin’s 17-year-old daughter. Apparently feminism doesn’t matter if you’re not a “right-thinking” woman. The attacks will keep coming—after all, when you think that anyone who disagrees is downright evil and must be stopped at all costs, attacking a 17-year-old girl in a vulnerable time is perfectly acceptable. Some people in this country are so filled with a blind partisan rage that nothing else matters.

Gov. Palin’s family is not a political issue. Ms. Palin made a mistake, but she is not treating her baby as a “punishment” as some would have her do. Instead, she is taking responsibility for her actions, she is going to marry the father of her child, and they will be excellent parents. That is the way responsible people act, whether the “netroots” understand it or not.

The displays of naked sexism, vile partisanship, and the politics of personal destruction coming from the left these days can’t be swept under the rug forever. If Obama continues to underperform with female voters it will be in no small part due to the despicable attacks against Sen. Clinton, Gov. Palin, and Bristol Palin. The far left simply cannot stomach the idea that the most powerful woman in America could be a woman who doesn’t share their political dogma. In their attacks against these women, they’re showing their true colors. The more they spread their hatred, the more they will end up undermining their own cause.

UPDATE: Sen. Obama has wisely said that Gov. Palin’s family is out of bounds. The problem is that the extremists in the “netroots” are unlikely to listen.

Campaign 2008, Politics

Sarah Barracuda For Vice President

It’s official: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is John McCain’s VP pick.

This is the best pick he could have made.

Earlier this year, I had her as a favorite, not really thinking that McCain would be so bold as to pick her. Looks like I underestimated Sen. McCain’s vision after all.

Alaska is as far away from Washington as it comes. Gov. Palin is tough, principled, well-spoken, and a great example of what a woman in America can be in the 21st Century. She is an inspired pick for McCain, and she will help him win in November.

UPDATE: Obama got BidOWNED…

Red State: EPIC WIN.