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A classic evisceration speech by the running mate

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin proved herself worthy of at least one thing with a rousing convention speech: She can fill the traditional role of attacker.

In the manner of all national political conventions, last night's events at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., gradually moved toward the crescendo that will come with tonight's acceptance speech by Sen. John McCain.

The big news for my fellow Democrats and media pundits: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's address last night to accept the nomination for vice president was the classic attack speech of a vice-presidential nominee. She was tough, gave no quarter, had the GOP troops in the hall rockin' and rollin', and typed herself as someone who, as President Harry Truman (whom she cited as a role model), does best when the heat rises in the kitchen.

A Democratic friend and longtime capital insider e-mailed me after the speech to type it as "a George Wallace speech without the racism." I would disagree. It is the kind of speech that Truman, Sen. Estes Kefauver, and other reformist/populist Democrats used to deliver to rouse the faithful.

Palin did nothing, and will do nothing, to change my vote, which will go to Obama-Biden. But she must be recognized as an asset for the Republican ticket and someone who must be treated seriously, not dismissed in a smart-assed, patronizing way, as Obama campaign statements did in the wake of her selection last Friday, Aug. 29, by McCain and, again, after her Wednesday speech.

Prominent GOP women business executives led off the day with positive statements about prospective McCain economic policies in the White House. Then the temperature rose. Palin gave the night's stemwinder, but she was preceded ably by McCain's principal competitors for the GOP nomination: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. They, as Palin, went on the offensive against Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. That is what happens on the next-to-last night of political conventions. McCain, tonight, thus can be a bit less partisan and present himself in positive terms.

Palin shrewdly took on the media, without mentioning specifically their recent focus on her 17-year-old daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Media excess has been notable in this instance — and inexcusable. Both Obama and his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, have stated strongly that the matter has no place in the campaign. Obama has gone so far as to remind that his own mother was 18 when he was born under similar circumstance.

I am reminded, in particular, of a moment during the tumultuous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, when one of Vice President Hubert Humphrey's running-mate finalists approached him to volunteer that his teenage daughter was pregnant. Humphrey told him to forget about it. Such matters had no place in a campaign, and if it were mentioned, Humphrey said, he would denounce by name whomever did so.

All of us no doubt will be tuning in tonight to watch and hear McCain. Then we shall see what "bounce," if any, Republicans get in national polls as a result of their convention. The Democratic ticket at first got no bounce, but, a couple days after convention's close, a modest 3-to-5 point rise materialized. With the two conventions over, things will settle out for a week or 10 days before the two tickets' relative strengths begin to firm, constituency by constituency. I truly look forward to a several-week period in which alternative political philosophies will be presented and debated by able representatives of both parties.

Ted Van Dyk has been involved in, and written about, national policy and politics since 1961. His memoir of public life, Heroes, Hacks and Fools, was published by University of Washington Press. You can reach him in care of editor@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 7:41 a.m. Inappropriate

Good Choices: FWIW, it looks like McCain made a great choice in Palin. As a swing vote swayed by Biden I have also been influenced by Palin. I haven't made up my mind yet, but look forward to a great campaign and a victor with more positives than negatives.

Those Hilary supporters who are ganging up on Palin and her daughter, well, they look to be continuing to make bad choices.

That's a problem with monolithic ideologies. Sure, the message, the point has power, but it is true diversity which gives us the ability to respond to change, as well as make it to suit ourselves.

There's a corrolary to Murphy's Law relevant here - my apologies for the vague paraphrase -

If we built civilization like we build computers a single bug would destroy our society.

The first testament contains an interesting story which reflects on that point - the old tower of babylon tale. The Preston Gates and Ellis may well have repeated this error in building Microsoft.

Let's hope Crosscut doesn't repeat it in trying to build this site!

Douglas Tooley
From the McKinley Neighborhood CoffeeHouse
My Blog

P.S. Still looking forward to the 'old school' debate between Senators Biden and Lieberman

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 7:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Correction: S/B:

"Let's hope Crosscut doesn't repeat the Babylon mistake in trying to build Sound Transi!"

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 8:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Go away and rebuild your party!: I think Palin is a good choice for McCain, because there aren't many good ones out there. However, the fact that her views on abortion, alternative sources of energy (she's tied into big oil obviously, a band-aid for the US in the long haul), wanting to teach creationism, abstinence as birth control, questioning our leading scientists on climate change--these are ALL short-sighted views that will get us no further along as a nation. As an Independent voter, I feel more than ever this election NEEDS to be about change, not going backwards or staying stagnant, which the McCain-Palin ticket proposes. Jettison the blind fools, let the Republican party rebuild itself into a party that has vision--not into the past, but into the future. Eight years of a short-sighted fool and his administration is enough! We've a huge eight year hole to dig ourselves out of: fiscally, emotionally, globally, and add to that the responsibility for destabilizing the middle east, our country as never before needs a huge overhaul. I'm not ready to chance the fact that if a 72-year-old McCain dies in office, we get Palin. There's just too much at stake. For all the Republicans that think otherwise, you're just blindly playing *hurrah for my team.* And frankly, for the past eight years, your team has stunk up the joint and fallen far down in the standings. I wouldn't care, but unfortunately your poor play has taken the rest of our nation with you. I was once a fan. I voted for Reagan and Papa Bush (thankfully not the current Bush incompetent). It's time: find an off-season, go away and rebuild.

political

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 8:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Go away and rebuild your party!: I think Palin is a good choice for McCain, because there aren't many good ones out there. However, the fact that her views on abortion, alternative sources of energy (she's tied into big oil obviously, a band-aid for the US in the long haul), wanting to teach creationism, abstinence as birth control, questioning our leading scientists on climate change--these are ALL short-sighted views that will get us no further along as a nation. As an Independent voter, I feel more than ever this election NEEDS to be about change, not going backwards or staying stagnant, which the McCain-Palin ticket proposes. Jettison the blind fools, let the Republican party rebuild itself into a party that has vision--not into the past, but into the future. Eight years of a short-sighted fool and his administration is enough! We've a huge eight year hole to dig ourselves out of: fiscally, emotionally, globally, and add to that the responsibility for destabilizing the middle east, our country as never before needs a huge overhaul. I'm not ready to chance the fact that if a 72-year-old McCain dies in office, we get Palin. There's just too much at stake. For all the Republicans that think otherwise, you're just blindly playing *hurrah for my team.* And frankly, for the past eight years, your team has stunk up the joint and fallen far down in the standings. I wouldn't care, but unfortunately your poor play has taken the rest of our nation with you. I was once a fan. I voted for Reagan and Papa Bush (thankfully not the current Bush incompetent). It's time: find an off-season, go away and rebuild.

political

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 9:16 a.m. Inappropriate

Oh boy, van Dyck.: Doesn't it say "eviscerate" in the headline to your piece?
Where's mention of a single scalpel? Also, you assume that the chick wrote
that speech herself! Give at least one quote. Still, we have something to look forward to push the 300 million sheeples over the edge, the presidency of sarah palin!
and on the eight day of creation god made sarah palin a true oil gusher mom
with her bear gun a worthy successor to teddy roosevelt announces that her 14 year old daughter "wacko" is pregnant, apparently with a litter of puppies, and that she had decided to keep them.
her pregnancy was not a case of gross bestiality as some might suppose. but "wacko" on the itarod had got caught in a snow storm and had cuddle huddles with
her huskies, and well 'something happened'... and the sextuplets have been tentatively named 'donner' 'blitzen' etc. in honor of the critters that there are most of in the great state of alaska... both parties are rearing to go full force into afghanistan and safeguard that oil in the caucasus... they'll be led by annie oakley...
mikerol

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 9:24 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Go away and rebuild your party!: This election needs to be about change, but what kind of change is Obama proposing? A lot of Great-Society-esque government-can-solve-all-problems rhetoric from the 1960s and 1970s? All that stuff was tried and proven wanting. We need a move towards smaller, less intrusive government, not a continuation of Bush's big-government conservatism or Obama's big-government liberalism. Unfortunately, whoever wins this election, change is the last thing we're going to see.

dbreneman

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 9:57 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Go away and rebuild your party!: Palin's views on energy alternatives, abstinence, and climate change may indeed be short-sighted, but creationism and abortion? Not that I agree with her on any of these issues.

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 10:06 a.m. Inappropriate

Palin, win or loose: With either a McCain victory or defeat Palin is now a national figure.

And heck, if Teddy had Annie Oakley perhaps the 'Bull Moose' party would've had a 'shot'.

And for that matter if Gregoire's washington law school cohort Ted Bundy's victims had an NRA membership we could've spared the expenses they have created....

-Douglas Tooley

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 10:08 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Go away and rebuild your party!: The problem is that I don't believe Bush's big-government conservatism WAS conservatism, thus our great debt. We haven't seen Obama's big-government liberalism, as you label it, come to fruition, and unfortunately may never if he loses the election. But I'm voting for him, along with the possibility of a government that recognizes climate change by addressing it--NOT by ignoring it and pumping more oil, but by sponsoring support for alternative sources of energy and thus creating more jobs at home in that particular field and reducing our dependency on overseas crude; addressing the need for universal health care; pulling out of Iraq when we never should have been there; recognizing the need for separation of church and state--and that's just for starters. And to whomever doesn't recognize these needs to fix issues that have taken us drastically and seriously off-track as a nation, I see you as part of the problem, as are McCain and Palin. Trust me when I say that Palin isn't the only one who's angry. Republican, Democrat, male, female, black, white, or both, it doesn't matter. What DOES matter is that our LEADERS take this nation on a course that is in line with addressing our needs in the future, not promoting band-aids for the present. I'm willing to stake the future on Obama's shoulders, not an old, unwise, unwitting, and short-sighted man with an archaic view of the world. Republicans: Go away and rebuild your party!

political

Posted Thu, Sep 4, 5:41 p.m. Inappropriate

Palin and the Reformation of the Republican Party: Martin Luther nailed his 99 theses on the door of the church when he became disgusted with the Catholic church. The result was the Reformation.

Palin has (unwittingly I believe) done the same thing with the Republican Party. She's already exposed the corrupt underbelly of the Bush Republican Party in Alaska, as well as the corruption and cronyism of the oil industry lobby in that state.

Apparently, she's also going after the welfare state that is the state of Alaska and is urging Americans to cut all the earmarks that are going to Alaska, such as the bridge-to-nowhere. This makes perfect sense, and I applaud her attack on the excesses of the Republican Party over the last eight years.

She is a shining example for the rest of the nation of the need for a pro-choice tolerance of personal decisions by women that on the surface undermine the stability of the home, and that sacrifice children's education and welfare for the good of the nation. The exception can prove the rule, and the decline of the crime rate in this nation due to a pro-choice environment encouraging birth control and family planning is beyond dispute. Democrats are largely tolerant of her behavior and of other Republicans who espouse family-values and then find that maybe the rigid, market-driven values of the Republican Party and big oil aren't quite the same as Christian values or common sense.

She is also a shining example of how the ERA, NOW, and feminists in general now allow basketball playing (thanks Title IX) hockey moms, moms in tennis shoes, and various and sundry other family-oriented working moms to enter politics.

Sarah Palin is an attack dog who in her very attacking exemplifies just about everything that Hillary Clinton has ever said. She is the best that the Republican Party has to offer. Like George Bush, she is just as devoted to subsidizing big oil, funding God's war in Iraq, jacking up the national debt, and providing inexperienced, executive management. She gives new meaning to No Child Left Behind.

Sarah Barracuda, and her personal attacks, epitomize the politics of divisiveness that American hates. She is joining hands with John McCain, a man who has been part of the Washington Republican establishment for decades, who has voted in virtual lock-step with the Bush administration, and who was one of the Keating 5 during the savings and loan crisis. This duo is the strongest ticket that Republicans can muster and together the perfect argument for change by kicking the Republican bums out.

Sarah Palin is as qualified to be President as George Bush: she's a no-military-service governor with little experience who people wouldn't mind sitting down with to have a beer, eat venison, and clean their guns.

Eventually the Protestant Reformation spread to America where democracy, free speech and the free market thrived. In America Catholics and Protestants live and work side by side. The Democratic Party breeds and believes in that unity and tolerance. When Obama is President, Sarah Palin's views and interests will be respected and tolerated, even if she represents the shrill minority of Americans.

I wish she and her family well after Obama wins. Her example should be enough to turn the tide.
Stuka

Posted Fri, Sep 5, 1:39 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Palin and the Reformation of the Republican Party: I agree: Sarah Palin is as qualified to be President as George Bush--and probably just as apt (that's not saying a lot!). In the upcoming election, I wish her well, but not in victory.

political

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