Sarah Palin did not light the stage on fire last night, literally, as Democrats had hoped, or figuratively, as David Brooks and Rich Lowry seem to believe.
No, what happened instead was that Sarah Palin started out okay. She was folksy, she's good-looking, and she didn't sound like a political Britney Spears, which seems to be what many expected.
Watching the first part of the debate, as someone who is obviously in the tank for Biden, I thought, Palin's doing fine, for Palin (I thought her answers were painfully awful, and I wanted to beat my head against a spiked wall whenever she spoke, but I'm not an independent still looking to decide on a candidate).
However, as the debate went on, Palin lost it. And here's why: the folksiness wears thin. I know that the commentators afterward could not stop babbling about how great the folksiness is for middle America. Stop it. It's grating to people in any part of the country, because as Palin continued with her non-answers, winks, and jibes, there was no way to conclude anything but -- this woman has no idea what she's talking about.
It's great to be folksy for a couple of answers. But an hour and a half of this stuff is nauseating, and that's why she lost. When Biden would talk seriously about foreign policy or education, Palin would talk about the third-grade class watching the debate and getting extra credit. That may have worked at minute two of the debate. At minute 70, it just doesn't work anymore. She just seems like she's being too cute, which then comes across as an insult to people's intelligence.
And this is where the Republicans are really kidding themselves, particularly the in-the-tank types who don't get it. I'm talking specifically to David Brooks, Rich Lowry, Rudy Giuliani, who called this one of the best debate performances ever, and --Pat Buchanan.
They all have this completely wrong. Many Republicans, and certainly the undecided voters out there, are not jumping on their couches with excitement for Palin, as Brooks claims today. Many are ready to jump out their windows at the thought that this woman could be a VP nominee.
Last night, Sarah Palin seemed a little more "on" than she had been in her previous media appearances. But her down-home act gets very tired very fast. The hour and a half debate was just like the last month with Palin: good at the outset, then, holy crap, she really doesn't know her stuff.
The problem for McCain is that Palin is going to cost him the election.
The problem that the people mentioned above -- Brooks, etc. -- is that McCain is going to lose, and they will continue to write their columns, or, in Rudy's case, continue to be a disaster ambulance-chaser (but he's another story). When they do write their columns, it will be impossible to read them without giggling -- they thought Palin did great last night!
What does that say about them? Why would a reader take them seriously?