Sarah Palin’s Convention Speech

Posted by Katherine | September 5, 2008 – 12:12 am
Palin speaking at convention
[Tom LeGro, NewsHour / Flickr]

There were lots of favorable headlines in the mainstream media about Sarah Palin’s convention speech. Here, from the blogosphere, is some of that same feeling as well as some edge.

Jeff from Elk Grove, California, is going to vote for Obama, but he thought Palin nailed her speech and wonders “for the first time” whether the Dems are in trouble:

Sarah Palin is no Dan Quayle, and based on tonight’s speech, I’m tempted to go out on a limb and declare McCain’s choice a stroke of genius. […] Sure, it was just as political as one might expect, and she took what many reasonable people would consider some cheap shots, but that’s all part of the game. […]

The thing is, she seems real. She doesn’t come across as your run-of-the-mill politician, but neither does she come across as some larger-than-life mythical figure.

[…] If I were Joe Biden, I’d have some trouble sleeping tonight.

The race is on.

Sharon Cobb, a (probutcool) journalist and filmmaker in Nashville, Tennessee, also sees Palin as a formidable force:

This little spitfire is dangerous.

She lulled her audience into a motherly kind of safety , then let loose like an attack dog on steroids. […]

In short, Sarah Palin is Mrs Cleaver meets the Manchurian Candidate on speed.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Joshua Gibson, a liberal from Portland, Oregon, was smitten by Palin, though he doesn’t want her in the White House:

Is it wrong for me to love this woman so much? […]

[W]hen Sarah Palin got up on that stage and delivered a speech that, while hardly substantive, was nonetheless effective, raucous, pointed, piercing and, oddly enough, fun she rose so high above the expectations her enemies had set that she’s being compared to Obama in 2004!

She knows what the real job of the Vice President is, better even than Joe Biden did last week. She’ll attack ruthlessly but somehow sweetly, wrapped up in her mixture of dorky class president and sleek beauty queen.

Armando Llorens, a liberal Puerto Rico lawyer who goes by “Big Tent Democrat,” feels that Palin missed a chance to win over a lot of voters:

What Sarah Palin could have done last night was discuss herself and introduce how she cares about the issues of working class Americans. That would have expanded John McCain’s electoral base. Instead, Palin delivered the speech prepared (with some adjustments of course) for the generic VP candidate — the typical red meat speech.

The speech did not work as it should even as a a red meat speech, imo, because Palin is an unknown quantity. These types of attack speeches require a certain credibility that Palin has not yet earned. […]

Palin strikes a tactical win last night. But the opportunity was bigger, and it was completely missed by the Republicans.

Soapbox Mom is a former lawyer and now stay-at-home mother. She explains that she’s “no liberal” but that she’s also no fan of Palin’s — and not just because she thinks Palin is unqualified:

She gave […] a disappointingly mean-spirited, snide, saracastic speech […] [S]he spoke lies and delivered mean words with a smile and a chuckle. Such disrespect is not the kind of behavior I want my kids to emulate. […]

Journalists, bloggers, and regular folks have been displaying so much emotion about the Palin pick. But have you seen Barack Obama talk about it? Calm and assertive. The man is calm and assertive about everything, including Ms. Palin. We can all take a lesson from him.

TeacherRefPoet was not impressed with the way Palin mocked Obama’s community organizing (hat tip to volunteer curator Emmett O’Connell):

Obama’s decision to go to the trenches and work with the poor is my favorite thing about him. Palin’s decision to say this solidifies the idea the Republicans could care less about the poor. (Were the poor or struggling families mentioned at all tonight?) […]

Palin, McCain, and their party don’t get it. This speech solidified it. Obama’s choice to be a community organizer shows his values are immensely Christian. Have you noticed, Gov. Palin, how often Jesus discusses the poor? Those who value those teachings go to where the poor are and work with them. You know, in the community. Organizing it.

Dean Rader teaches English at the University of San Francisco. He watched the speech with this students and graded it:

On one hand, she delivered her talk with confidence. She’s a better–or at least a more natural–public speaker than Hillary Clinton. She’s softer, less stiff, and more convincingly folksy. […]

Content, though, is a different story.

Students often confuse “topic” and “thesis,” and this seems to have been Ms. Palin’s stumbling block as well. […] Though Ms. Palin certainly had topics […] she never really asserted a thesis. […]

On a micro level, she did a fine job of telling us what we already know: her hockey momness, her momness, her governorness. But, she told us little about what ideas, what thinkers, what texts shape her thinking, galvanize her ideology, and motivate her to public service. […]

On delivery, I would give Governor Palin high marks, likely an A. On content though, it would be quite low, more like a D. That would average out to a B, which is probably about right.

Dean says his students — mostly women — would have graded her lower.

Nate Silver is a baseball analyst extraordinaire in Chicago, and he’s been applying his number-crunching savvy to the election. He’s unconvinced that Palin will make a big difference, votewise, for McCain’s campaign:

In exceedingly plain English, I think there’s a pretty big who the fuck does she think she is? factor. And not just among us Daily Kos reading, merlot-drinking liberals. I think Palin’s speech will be instinctively unappealing to other whole demographics of voters, including particuarly working-class men (among whom there may be a misogyny factor) and professional post-menopausal women. […]

Ultimately, it’s not that I don’t think there aren’t people who will find Palin’s performance effective — I just don’t think there’s much overlap between those people and the universe of persuadable voters.

Nate’s blog colleague, Sean Q., lives in California and thinks Palin’s speech energized the GOP… and the Dems. And, according to him, that puts the Dems in the lead:

Fire up both bases equally, it’s not even close. Obama wins going away. In 2008, there are so many more Democrats, numerically.

So, everyone on both partisan sides has reason to celebrate tonight. Republicans can celebrate a true champion in the VP role. Dems can celebrate because the numbers don’t lie, and no energy occurs in a vacuum. Republicans can’t tie this year.

Whether or not Sean is right about the numbers, he may have a point about Palin activating the Democrats: the Obama campaign apparently received $10 million today.

One last note: a healthy number of bloggers saw lies in Palin’s speech (examples here and here), and some pointed to this AP fact-check piece.


  1. 5 Responses to “Sarah Palin’s Convention Speech”

  2. The Republican Party has been high-jacked by the religious right as McCain’s selection of Palin proves. I thought McCain might bring some sanity to back to the party but it turns out experience does count and he is following the George Bush/Carl Rove play book of appealing to the “Gun tottin, God fearin” mob with his choice of Sarah Palin. The least you can say for George Bush is that he picked Cheney, whatever you may think of him, he is no light weight. Another trait about McCain that makes me very uncomfortable is his quick shoot from the hip decision making process. His selection of Palin seems to be a perfect example of this. This seems very similar to George W. Bush’s decision making methodology which landed us in $3 Trillion and counting war without end. And I’m not a democrat. I voted for Bush the first go around. But McCain just doesn’t seem to have the necessary personality traits to be an effective executive. He lost my potential vote for good with his selection of Palin.

    By Patrick Henry on Sep 6, 2008

  3. After a mediocre (at best) acceptance speech I still don’t know who she is. She wasn’t properly vetted and when the dirt on her hit the press everyone wanted to blame Obama and his supporters. And talking about keeping kids out of politics…Conservatives should practice what they preach! This woman has become more popular in less than a week than Obama and McCain. What does that say about the American People?…wow…People are raving about how much they love her, her kids, even her parents who, as far as I know…have only been shown once…in the audience at the RNC…What is going on?

    By roschelle on Sep 6, 2008

  4. After a mediocre (at best) acceptance speech - huh?

    Sounds like the leftists are scared of Sarah. There is an air of desperation in their attacks. 16 governors were elected to the office of President; two senators were elected to the office of President. TR was two years a governor, as was Grover Cleveland. John Edwards had 17 months of experience as an elected official when he was nominated as the VP candidate. Barack made the keynote address to the democratic convention in 2004; at the time he was just a state senator. What justifies that? Sarah has more than enough experience.

    By john personal trainers Austin on Sep 7, 2008

  5. Obama has been attacked through the whole campaign. Palin, like Obama, is a politician, attacks come with the territory. The Republicans have ran a campaign on EXPERIENCE all year so don’t get upset when people play the same game. Palin attacks “community organizer” but we need someone in touch with the community. Palin represents big business back scratching. She preaches small town, but bacame mayor of a debt free small Alaskan town and left it in MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in debt. Look it up, public knowledge. Yes we are scared of Sarah. Clinton left the presidentcy with a record surplus. Bush and McSame left us with a record DEFICIT. I am scared to death of McSame/Palin. I am a desert storm survivor GOD help me survive McSame/Palin.

    By Andrea on Sep 14, 2008

  6. hey roschelle are you kidding me? Palins speech was amazing, im not a republican but that was a great speech and she said what she has done, you either werent listening or you are so closed minded that you couldnt hear anything, get real obama hussein isnt the answer you think the country is in bad shape now? get ready for much worse if he is elected

    By Go GIANTS! on Sep 17, 2008

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