Sarah Palin gave a very good speech last night. Not great; not star-making, as some have dubbed it -- but very good. Give the woman her props. True, it contained little or no mention of policy, but that wasn't her job. She was there to deliver applause lines, platitudes, and cutaways of perfect children, and that's exactly what she did.
The McCain camp (I suspect at the behest of Karl Rove, who apparently thinks this is still 2004) has clearly committed to a strategy of rallying the base. They've decided that swing voters aren't the answer. They're betting the farm on making this a culture war instead of an issues debate. They're waving big, juicy hunks of red meat to get their dogs riled up.
Just one problem...they may be riling up the wrong dogs.
Immediately after the speech, I received a text from a Texan friend -- an ardent feminist. She summed up her feelings thusly: "I have never in my life been so motivated to kick Republican ass." I had to laugh, because I'd been sitting there thinking the very same thing.
The pandering, family exploitation, and brazen lies had been expected. (Sarah -- you're still trying to make us believe you opposed the Bridge to Nowhere? Really?) What hadn't been was the condescension aimed squarely at Obama and his supporters. Up to that point, McCain's strategy had been to paint Obama as a gifted young man who lacks the experience to lead. Last night, that seemed to shift to "Isn't it cute that Obama thinks he can be president? Isn't it cute that all those people are dumb enough to believe that just because his mouth makes pretty sounds, he'll make a good leader?"
She mocked the Senator for wanting to be Commander in Chief as part of a "journey of personal discovery." She mocked him for writing two books, and no major laws. She mocked him for volunteering to help the unemployed steel workers of Chicago.
I'll leave it to others to refute these points one by one -- needless to say, they're all, as Peggy Noonan would put it, "political bullshit."
This morning, my inbox was overflowing with friends pledging to send Obama more money, and encouraging others to do the same. The passion and fury in some of these emails was shocking -- a bit frightening, even for a liberal flamethrower like me. There was a "drag them through the streets" mentality to many of them. An actual quote: "I don't want them beaten -- I want them destroyed." Yes, that's reactionary and probably unproductive in the grand scheme of politics. But I understand those feelings. I've had them.
On the more level-headed side, one friend forwarded a line she'd read on the Alaskan political blog Mudflats:
"Maybe someone needs to remind Sarah Palin that Jesus Christ was a community organizer, and Pontius Pilate was a governor."
(Somebody needs to get on making that t-shirt).
Who knows? Maybe Sarah Palin really did hit one out of the park last night. Or maybe, as I believe, she simultaneously enthralled Evangelicals, raised another $25M for Barack Obama, and sent hordes of Hillary holdouts and Independents scurrying for the hills.
In a few months, we'll all know whether Sarah Palin was a stroke of genius by a man who'd been counted out before, or the last gasp of a dying ideology.
One thing's clear -- the gloves are off, and I couldn't be happier.
Seth Grahame-Smith is the founder of HomelandApology.org.
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