Sarah Palin’s debut was star worthy. She infused her speech with personal details that should endear her to the national stage — something that Andrew Sullivan signals that “reality television become our politics.”
We were introduced to her family, both via her introduction, the camera shots of them in the audience and onstage at the end of her speech. That in itself, I would guess, makes it hard not to like her. As humor is to Mike Huckabee, authenticity is to Sarah Palin, and that persona could be an incredibly effective tool on the campaign trail, perhaps enough to make some voters forget that they don’t side with her on many social issues.
I thought she was better than McCain was at conveying his message of reform.
The speech itself was free of much talk about just what she and McCain would do about the economy, other than to charge that the Democrats will raise taxes and to claim the mantle of smaller government. Instead, there was a lot of focus on oil drilling and national security.
What surprised me, however, was how negative that Palin got toward Barack Obama, particularly in mocking his work as a community organizer. My sense is that it won’t take too long for the Democrats to throw some of her record as the mayor of a small Alaskan town right back at her — reigniting the experience debate. Moreover, her attack on Obama as an elitist who hasn’t run anything is the same kind of argument that her opponent’s campaign will be making against John McCain. Mud all around.
Other curious points of the evening: Mitt Romney’s speech sounded bitter and angry; Mike Huckabee lost me when he started telling a story about desks in schools; and Rudy Giuliani gave a rousing speech that he sound have sounded during his presidential campaign. It was snarky — but that is what a big city mayor (yes, “cosmopolitan”) usually is.
Giuliani did deliver a whack at Hollywood, saying that he didn’t want stars deciding who the next president is. It was a reference, apparently, to all of the celebs who have been on the trail for Obama or who have at least supported him. That was an interesting line, because Giuliani did draw support from the industry during his presidential campaign, and stars like Jon Voight and Robert Duvall campaigned for him.