Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Analysis of Wednesday night speeches at GOP convention

Posted by sanityinjection on September 4, 2008

This was the first and probably the only night of either convention that I was actually able to watch almost all of. I’ve already posted below about the GOP’s “minority voices” hour and CNN’s deliberate censorship. This was followed by speeches by Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, two successful CEOs who had been mentioned as possible VP picks. While both came across as substantial, their speeches were boring.

The first major speech of the night was Mitt Romney. I was looking forward to hearing what kind of tack Romney would take. Unfortunately, I thought his speech was a poor one. It sounded like Romney was giving the first speech of his 2012 presidential campaign. He was quite obviously aiming for the right wing of his party and said nothing that would appeal to independent voters. Worse, every time he mentioned the nominees of his party, it sounded as if the speech had originally been written to refer to Romney himself and then edited at the last minute. While Romney’s comments on policy areas seemed genuine, that was the only thing that did. I don’t doubt Romney’s commitment to the ticket – he understands how to play the good soldier – but it’s clearly not motivated by anything more than self-interest. He said nothing about McCain and Palin that couldn’t have been scripted for any generic Republican ticket.

Mike Huckabee spoke next. His speech would have been thoroughly unmemorable except for a terrific story he told about an elementary teacher who had all the desks removed from her classroom to drive home a point to her students about the sacrifices made by our nation’s military veterans. It was powerful and moving, as it was meant to be.

Rudy Giuliani was the warm-up act for Sarah Palin. He gave a strong speech full of criticisms of Obama and Biden and praise of the GOP ticket. Pretty standard stuff, but executed well. He avoided the social issues where his views differ from those of most of the delegates, and the crowd rewarded him with genuine applause.

Then of course it was time for the main event. The media has already analyzed her speech to death, so I’ll limit myself to some brief comments. Governor Palin is clearly an attractive lady, and her wardrobe did not appear to be chosen to hide her femininity. At one point duing her speech, she actually blew a kiss to one of McCain’s fellow POWs in the audience. Her remarks concerning her family, and subsequent interactions with them on stage, seemed very natural. She delivered some brutal barbs toward Obama but with a smile on her face that seemed to rob them of malice, a neat trick. She seemed to be enjoying herself and looked at ease. The vibe she exuded could be summarized as: “I’m a girl, and a damn clever one at that. I’m confident and not afraid of anything so you might want to think twice about messing with me.” Her charisma is undeniable.

The speech was light on policy and strong on partisan rhetoric, but then, it was supposed to be – this is the traditional role of the running mate, and she performed it as well as anyone. Anyone expecting her to fall on her face was disappointed. McCain seemed enormously pleased with himself when he came out and hugged her after her speech. Seeing the two of them side by side, I couldn’t block out the idea that Palin looked like she could be McCain’s daughter – yet it didn’t seem like a negative image. On the contrary, the father figure image, though new to him, seemed to sit well on McCain.

Of course, one speech does not qualify a person for the Vice Presidency. It remains to be seen how Palin will perform in her debate and on the campaign trail. However, I doubt there will be any underestimation of her from this point forward.


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