Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 4, 2008

UNDERWHELMED.... It might a little while until the political world has reliable data on the effectiveness of Sarah Palin's speech. What's more, I'd caution against putting too much stake in a couple of focus groups.

But there's at least some evidence that Palin's speech, while popular with die-hard Republicans and media personalities, may not have connected with the rest of the country as well as the McCain campaign may have hoped.

The Detroit Free Press conducted a focus group last night, and found that independents weren't impressed at all. They were looking for reassurances about her ability to hold national office, and Palin didn't deliver.

"Sarah Palin came across as the small town girl who made good. I knew that I disagreed with her on some issues before this evening. After listening to her speech ... it appears that once she makes up her mind, that is the end of it. We live in a gray world, not every answer is black and white." -- Diane Murphy, 42, Sterling Heights independent

"I was completely underwhelmed. She was a Republican novelty act with a sophomoric script. It was not even a speech I would expect for a someone running for the local PTA, much less for vice president." -- George Lentz, 66, Southfield independent

"Who is Sarah Palin? I'm sorry but I still don't know anymore about this young lady tonight than I did last night ... The way it looks to me, she's the Republican vice presidential nominee for one reason: because Hillary wasn't selected." -- Mike Kosh, 38, West Bloomfield independent

"Sarah Palin is a self-described 'pitbull with lipstick.' She spent little time helping Americans learn who she is. She is a cool, poised speaker, but her speech contained few statements about policy or the party platform.... I am not convinced that Palin's experience as a mayor or governor in Alaska meet the qualifications to be vice president much less one stroke or heart attack away from being commander in chief." -- Ilene Beninson, 52, Berkley independent

"Nothing worked for me. I found her barrage of snide remarksand distortions to be a major turn off. She is not a class act. The most important point she made is that she will be an effective attack dog." -- Jan Wheelock, 58, Royal Oak independent

"Sarah got as much applause as Hillary did, and had a friendly, appealing appearance. Her delivery style reminded me of a high school valedictorian who also might have been a cheerleader. I thought she would appear more professional, more stateswomanly. She's no match for Joe Biden." -- Joellen Gilchrist, 64, Beverly Hills independent

The Women's Voices/Women Vote Action Fund sponsored a similar focus group in Nevada, and found relatively similar responses.

I argued earlier that Palin effectively ignored everyone who didn't already agree with her, which was, at a minimum, a missed opportunity for a candidate in her position (an unknown seeking national office). If these two focus groups are indicative of a larger trend, she overreached last night.

Steve Benen 12:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (54)

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Comments

Now I just hope all her blatant lies about earmarks and "reform" get called out by the major networks.

And where is Hillary? She should be having this woman for lunch!

Posted by: r_m on September 4, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Did Palin mention Afghanistan at all during her speech?

Posted by: Sock Puppet of the Great Satan on September 4, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

If I were in Obama's camp, I would develop a subtheme along these lines:

Sarah Palin pleased the base because she is their new culture warrior. But when Republicans start "pleasing the base", it means they are trying to avoid issues that matter to most Americans.

Posted by: jvoe on September 4, 2008 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

What???

I want to have a beer with her, isn't that what we're supposed to base our vote on?

Posted by: Racer X on September 4, 2008 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Did Palin mention Afghanistan at all during her speech?

Posted by: AJB on September 4, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I hope someone leaves a few mics on today. Palin's speech sounded like it was written by Bill Maher's bitter twin.

Posted by: Danp on September 4, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Is it sexist to ask: What kind of mother (or father) would subject their 17-year-old pregnant daughter to the kind of media feeding frenzy that poor Bristol Palin has been forced to endure? I wouldn't have said a word about her kids except for this one issue and I would have said the same thing about a male candidate. There is a time when a parent has to put aside their personal ambition for the good of their child.

Posted by: orogeny on September 4, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

She's a GOPAC clone, what do you expect her to do? She's incompetent and corrupt, but covers well by trashing the other guy and pandering to the right wing's third-world superstitions.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on September 4, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are cheering because Palin takes the spotlight off how old and boring McCain is.

Democrats are cheering because ultimately the spotlight will swing back to McCain and Republicans can rediscover that Palin makes him look even more disappointing.

It's kinda like watching "Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" back to back. You're just so hoping it'll end strong and instead it ends with dancing Ewoks.

Posted by: Five Feet High n Rising on September 4, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

A Republican friend asked me if I'd seen the speech last night. She went on to say that she'd about decided the Repugs had lost it this year after the Democratic convention -- until she say Sarah Palin last night. She said she was so impressed with her.

I told her that Sarah had read the speech and it was written for a man candidate and reworked for Sarah. My friend said that, well, it worked for her.

Then I told her the speech was filled with untruths, and began to the recite them.

Then the phone rang.

I really need to put together a good list of anti-Palin/McBush talking points, as well as a postive one for Obama.

Posted by: on September 4, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

is there any reason to believe that palin "chose" what kind of speech to give last night? the speechwriter and the mccain campaign chose the approach; palin simply read it enthusiastically.

Posted by: howard on September 4, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Palin's speech sounded like it was written by Bill Maher's bitter twin.

According to the McCain campaign, most of the speech was written before Palin was picked.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on September 4, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

ah, but this comparison says it all just perfectly:

Palin: The Tanya Harding of Republican Politics.

Posted by: zeitgeist on September 4, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

I agree totally with the focus groups. She wasted her opportunity to make a good first impression with independents and Obama leaning Republicans. She won't get another chance.

The AP actually did some fact checking and came to the conclusion that she "stretched the truth" in a number of instances. If the AP says she stretched the truth and told a whopper or two, you know most of us realize she was lying through her teeth most of the speech.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 4, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

It was definately a play to the base type speech. I honestly expected her to do a little more reaching out. But the Republicans has clearly retreated back to their normal (and regrettably effective) attack dog tactics for this convention. Most of these speeches could have been delivered at any Republican convention of the last 30 years. just sub the word 'communist' for the word 'terrorist'.

And r_m I agree. Clinton needs to be on every Sunday talk show this weekend. Although the Dems do need to be a little careful focusing all their attention on Palin. They need to keep the pressure up on the top of the ticket.

And the Democratic talking points should include a point about how Bush was only mentioned ONCE during the entire evening.

Posted by: thorin-1 on September 4, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

One thing is for sure, Palin has convinced me this week that she is ready to be president. Not by this speech, of course. But by her stone-walling on the trooper-gate scandal. She is easily as good as Bush at refusing to testify. And that's what we're looking for in a president, right? Not only is she ready to stonewall on day one, she's stonewalling before she even has the job.

Posted by: fostert on September 4, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Apologies about the OT post. I had two windows open and accidentally posted to the wrong thread.

Posted by: orogeny on September 4, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Brian Williams just compared Palin's speech to "A Star is Born". So much for the celebrity meme. So much for the "mean old media" nonsense. So much for substance. A little while ago, one McCain supporter (It might have been Tucker Bounds) told Chuck Todd that Dems are "retreating to issues". Now Todd says the headline should be, "Conservatives find their Obama."

Posted by: Danp on September 4, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on September 4, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I don't have a list, but many times during her speech I kept saying to myself "does she really want to go there?"

Almost every line of attack is now open on her, her record, her qualifications, her family, her suitability as VP, her lies, her puffery, her speaking tics.

My guess is that she has a very short list of one-liners and interesting turns of phrase and that these will quickly exhaust the larger audience.

More than anything something unsustainable has now been introduced: the need for two standards of analysis concerning the experience and knowledge requirements for office. One is for Obama/Biden, the other for Palin.

Unfortunately the Republicans have spent the last year defining the terms of this analysis, now the must repudiate all of that when applied to Palin.

Best potential result: McCain can't use "obviously" anymore.

Posted by: tomj on September 4, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

If our readers want to read a column by Pat Buchanan, they are sharp enough to find it, and probably read it in the original German. Copy-pastes will be deleted. -Mod]

Posted by: on September 4, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

"High school valedictorian who also might have been a cheerleader." Joellen Gilchrist, 64, of Beverly Hills, hit it on the nose.

Posted by: bobbo on September 4, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK


I thought she would appear more professional, more stateswomanly.

Quite.

Palin will probably never have as many ears and ears focused on her again. And how did she honor the moment? By putting on bright lipstick, raising her rear leg, and gleefully pissing on millions of people.

Anybody who thinks this one is going over well doesn't have their finger on America's pulse.

Rabidity. Is. Passe.

Posted by: koreyel on September 4, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't see a speech as much as I saw a series of routines. My brain kept auto-completing them with "...and that's why you should elect me as the Junior Class President of 2008!"

Posted by: iucaffiend on September 4, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

With Obama reaching 50 points in the polls, Palin insulted millions of us when she called Obama supporters "followers".

I'm no strategist, but I imagine that insulting a significant percentage of the citizenry that you're hoping to represent isn't the most effect approach.

Posted by: CJ on September 4, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

HuffPo is reporting that "John McCain's presidential campaign is threatening a lawsuit against the National Enquirer over a print edition story the tabloid ran today alleging that Gov. Sarah Palin has had an extramarital affair with her husband's business partner."

Schweet! And it doesn't even matter whether it is true or not - after what NE did to Edwards. The Republicans can paint over all the other "issues" about Sarah Palin, but the Base will have a field day over this.

"Fate, it would seem, is not without a sense of irony" - Morpheus

Posted by: Marko on September 4, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

For a politician with a number of underexplored scandals and a bunch of easily-refuted lies hanging over her head, maybe poking the media in the eye repeatedly wasn't the smartest move.

I'm reminded of Gary Hart challenging the press to prove he was having an affair. Yeah, how'd that work out?

Posted by: TR on September 4, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Last night's speech by Palin does confirm that the Republican Party is still firmly in the grasp of the right-wing extremist fringe. Pathetically, the gushing in the MSM about the grandeur of the speech has been predictable. Sycophantic outlets such as CNN Headline News and AOL are running "polls" which would have one believe Palin is the new Obama. This much adulation suggests the Repugs were pressuring the MSM long before the actual address.

---By the way Mr. Benen, do you have any plans to restrict the posters as you did with "Carpetbagger Report"?

[Washington Monthly has live moderators. We eventually ban the truly obnoxious who can't take a hint. -Mod]

Posted by: -jlinge- on September 4, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention the SCREEEEECHING!

She's like that little twerp Michelle Malkin. She's a firecracker that goes P.O.W! P.O.W! P.O.W!

Posted by: Dale on September 4, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

iucaffiend wrote
"I'm no strategist, but I imagine that insulting a significant percentage of the citizenry that you're hoping to represent isn't the most effect approach"

It's worked for them the last couple of election cycles. The game isn't over until Nov 5th at the earliest.

The Republicans have clearly decided that suppressing independent voters by going negative and firing up their base to turn out is their only means of victory.

The ground game is critical here people. Get-out-the-vote drives. Get that independent minded guy in the cublicle next to yours who hasn't voted in the last two elections because 'they're all the same and it doesn't matter who controls the White House' out of his chair and into a voting booth. Make sure those young people turn out in force in November.

Hell, if you live in a state that is certain to go Obama, move to Ohio, Florida, Michigan or Colorado in the next two months (kidding, unless you think it will help).

Posted by: thorin-1 on September 4, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

I tried my best not to listen, though I heard some from time to time as I had NPR on in another room. Sarcasm isn't really all that becoming is it?

Posted by: kathy k. on September 4, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK


I think something the left often misses is that there are a lot of low-info voters who are impressed with someone who shows conviction. They may not like certain details of them (resume, policies), but when they see strength and conviction they're sold. Palin gave them a big dose of conviction.

Posted by: winner on September 4, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK
She has no foreign policy experience, we are told. And though Alaska's neighbors are Canada and Russia, the point is valid. But from the day she takes office, Palin will get daily briefings and sit on the National Security Council with the president and secretaries of state, treasury and defense.

She will be up to speed in her first year.

Oh, that's encouraging! "No, she isn't qualified yet, but she's a fast learner!" isn't exactly what I'd want to hear from a job reference. And anyway, we tried that with Dubya -- how'd that work out for us?

Posted by: Gregory on September 4, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Alleged lurid affairs with her husband's co-worker....a 17 y/o, unmarried daughter 5 months pregnant...ethics investigations...what's next? Sorry, but this is sounding more and more like "The Trailer Park Trash Days of Our Lives". (If the shoe fits...) Glad the repigs are restoring 'honor and dignity' to the White House. Sure they are.

Anyone else remember when the fRight wing nutjobs and knuckle-draggers castigated the FICTITIOUS Murphy Brown for having a child out of wedlock? The high and mighty, condescending, self-righteous party of 'family values' once again shows that you can do anything you want if you have an 'R' (for Rank hypocrite) after your name. They have no right to judge anyone or to tell any of us how to live our lives. 'Do as I say, not as I do' is their motto. It's OK when they do it because it's always "Fine for me, but NOT for thee". Republican leadership = Pure assholes. Plain and simple.

Have I mentioned lately how much I despise those people?

Posted by: OptiMysticalCynic on September 4, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

This could easily be the last time in a generation we can elect a man capable of surviving multiple plane crashes and a woman who can dress a moose while both live large off record oil profits and beer stocks.

I'm afraid that's an opportunity we may not get again.

Can we afford to ignore the blessings of hops and hopped-up prices and inebriated stories of vast exploits reforming something (I'm not sure what, but no matter)?

We do so at our own peril. And if you've ever faced a charging moose, you'll know exactly what I mean.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden on September 4, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Palin hits it out of the park, but after further review it is a foul ball.

Another thing this gas pipeline is not going to open until 2018 according to the New York Times. By then American scientist will have solved the problem of gravity and vacuum engines.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/19/us/19juneau.html

This is something

Close to 30 years, people have been working to build a natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope ~ Sheesh…perhaps the Republicans have finally lined up bullet proof legislation for the profiteering they need to make the deal. Plus they had time to lined up the beauty queen of oil pipelines. We Know Republicans like cute White people.

http://www.geotimes.org/dec04/NN_newAKpipe.html

This begs the grand prize question ~ what was Ted Stevens doing all this time?

We know bridge building is not one of Ted Stevens strengths. Or, did these pipes and things look like the Internet? Yes, they told Ted this was networking pipe lines to defeat Al Qaeda.

So now Palin has a new program called Moose development defense strategies.

America will need billions in defense funds to train Moose to sniff out terrorist in the North Slope to protect America. All Moose hunting is here by suspended. All those Companies that endure looses can belly up to the Federal Reserve window. For those who don’t want to stand in line, Andrea Mitchell has new free coupons left over from Allen Greenspand. Hurry supplies are limited there are only one trillion dollars left in coupons before Bush and company get kicked out of office.

for a few laughs what the heck...



Posted by: Megalomania on September 4, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Being a 43 year old woman in a red state (but a serious progressive), all I can say is I sat there with my mouth hanging open. I thought she was mean and spiteful. I have been anxiously searching all morning to see info like this. I told my husband last night that I didn't see how that would fly. People do not like spiteful, flippant, mean people, but especially not women.

Posted by: HopefulOkie on September 4, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

This will probably slide by most folks, but was noticed by some in Alaska.

Palin’s Pitbull Problem.

http://mudflats.wordpress.com/

Posted by: AK Liberal on September 4, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

I think after the introduction of Gov. Palin and her acceptance speech I have more questions than answers. I feel like I new more about her before actually every hearing her speak.

My list of inquiries are as follows:


1. Is she really a woman?

2. Is she really a mother?

3. Is She really the Governor of Alaska?

4. Was she really Mayor of Wasilla, AK?

Knowing that she has clearly misrepresented her background and record in office, it would only prudent for the media to fact check these wild assertions as well!

Posted by: TBone on September 4, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it awkward to see the GOP celebrating teen pregnancy is such an open fashion? I mean, I get the real families, real lives, but they spew such hateful rhetoric normally.

Posted by: ThatGuy on September 4, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

this speech also, frankly, made me feel sorry for her children, can you imagine having a parent who is that bitter, sarcastic and mean? Especially someone who touts her 'motherhood' status as a bonus. She's waaay too practiced with that sarcasm to not use it all the time.

Posted by: northzax on September 4, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

northzax wrote: "this speech also, frankly, made me feel sorry for her children, can you imagine having a parent who is that bitter, sarcastic and mean?"

I can imagine Sarah Palin's heart to heart talk with Bristol wherein Sarah assured her daughter that she would love and support her, regardless of whether she decided to keep the baby, or decided to commit cold-blooded murder of an innocent unborn life, destroy her mother's political career, and burn in hell.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 4, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

iucaffiend wrote
"I'm no strategist, but I imagine that insulting a significant percentage of the citizenry that you're hoping to represent isn't the most effect approach---

It's the whole with us or against us ploy. Who wants to be on the side that has been label: Dumb, unPratriotic, etc. etc.

I think the problem with this is that too many people don't want to be part of the following labels: Jobless, Broke, Homeless etc. etc.

When thinking just can't change the circumstances of John McCain's "mental recession," you got to vote change.

Posted by: TBone on September 4, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I don't believe that, so far -- I've been working from the bottom up -- NOBODY has noticed that Team Obama had a point by point refutation of Palin's lies out by 2:00 A.M.

They missed a couple, like her pretended support for public education (her purported reason for joining the PTA) which is belied by several of her positions. And it is a little 'raggedy' showing the haste with which it was done -- apparently simply listening and writing refutations.

But talk about a "Rapid Response Team." It might have been too late to catch the morning papers, but there's no way that could have been avoided.

You'll hear a lot about it, because even that part of the MSM that was pro-McCain is turning against him.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on September 4, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I once spent a few months in Valdez, so I am a unqualified expert on everything Alaska. She is a tundra harpy, more annoying than dangerous. I will have to keep the volume at zero to avoid one more millisecond of that horror show.

Posted by: moondancer on September 4, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Is it sexist to ask: What kind of mother (or father) would subject their 17-year-old pregnant daughter to the kind of media feeding frenzy that poor Bristol Palin has been forced to endure? I wouldn't have said a word about her kids except for this one issue and I would have said the same thing about a male candidate. There is a time when a parent has to put aside their personal ambition for the good of their child.

It’s late, and parts of my brain have already stopped working but remember 92?
NY congress woman (who’s name I forget, daughter of Staten Island borough president) married a congressman who was widely rumored to be gay (don’t remember his name either)
They were the poster couple for the whole Hip-publican nonsense. Touted as the new face of the party, real up and comers, rising stars

Brought her newborn to the convention
Peoples reaction wasn’t what they expected. Average voter thought “What? They kept a newborn up till 2am just for a photo op?”

Both sank into obscurity soon after

Anybody remember what their names were?

Posted by: on September 4, 2008 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

sorry 11:08 was me

Posted by: jefft452 on September 4, 2008 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Although I did not watch Palin's performance last night, I assume she did pretty good in regards to her presentation and offering 'red meat' to her base.

Someone asked me earlier today what I thought of her speech, because he felt it was great and unbelievably good.

I told him I could never consider someone seriously,when they subscribe to creationism, and lie knowingly about accomplishments that are easily discredited.

He started mentioning that Obama was going to raise my taxes. It told him it was a misconception thanks to the media. That Obama would actually be lowering my taxes. That Obama's plan is actually better than McCain's plan up to the 250K tax bracket.

He interrupted me and told me that he's voting for himself. McCain's tax bracket is better for the rich, and that's why he's voting for McCain... No regard to what happens to the country, that is only secondary.

To me that is a sad commentary, when people vote for selfish reasons, especially when being rich and able to afford offering a helping hand. Luckily the percentage of the population making 250K + isn't big enough to push McCain over the edge.

I think Obama will have to do a much better job reaching people and explaining that they actually will be getting a tax break.

Posted by: bruno on September 4, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Face it folks. Regardless of the negative retoric,
Palin just totally changed the direction of this race. She took on the the media and all her detractor with one hand tied behind her back.
She has positioned herself to be the next Ronald Reagan for the Repubs.
You will have to see her mug for a long time to come. Lets just hope she makes the best of it.

Posted by: bradley d. on September 5, 2008 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Face it folks. Regardless of the negative retoric,
Palin just totally changed the direction of this race.

You base this on what exactly?

She took on the the media...

Annoy the media, vote Bush-Quale '92

Posted by: jefft452 on September 5, 2008 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Based on the poles over the next few days and on her broad appeal. This site not included.

Posted by: bradley d. on September 5, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Based on the poles over the next few days

Based on polls that havent been taken yet???

look, "It's just my gut feeling" would have been an ok answer

I kinda hoped you would explain who you think she will appeal to and why. Even if I think your wrong the answer would have at least been an answer

but that reply was just lame

Posted by: jefft452 on September 5, 2008 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

She changed the direction all right. Now it has all the allure of a meth infested trailer park. That family looks like it belongs on stage with Jerry Springer, not a presidential nominee.

Posted by: Blue Girl on September 5, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: hrfawnvli kziywb on September 7, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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