Sarah Palin, for better or worse, has been the focus of most of the GOP convention. Since her designation as the VP choice last Friday, she has been criticized by many, including myself, on her experience (or lack thereof). Others have opted to focus on the pregnancy of her 17 year old daughter, Bristol.
Let me be clear at the outset. It’s not that I don’t like Sarah Palin. How can I not like what I don’t know. Blog posts, op-ed pieces and rip-roaring by fringe internet communities does not make allegations fact. I don’t know Palin enough to not like her.
However, Palin is new. 60ish days before the election, the electorate is tossed the name of someone most of us have never heard of. Many on the right would point to the lack of experience of Barack Obama. And it’s true, he is inexperienced. The difference is that we have had a year and a half with Obama to get comfortable with him. We’ve had a year and a half to hear him speak with candor and and an eloquence that is disarming. We’ve had a year and a half to see him debate and hear his ideas. We’ve seen him on television and heard him on the radio.
No, Obama doesn’t have a wealth of experience but at least we have more than 60 days to get comfortable with the idea of this great man as the next President of the United States.
Palin? We are expected to buy into what the GOP says about her. That she is a great woman with family values. That she has executive experience enough to make her Vice Presidency a viable thing. We’re expected to buy into her tenacity and her ability to take on Washington in the same way she took on Alaska’s establishment.
Forgive me for being cynical, but I don’t make hasty decisions. It took me over a year to endorse Obama. I can’t just buy into Palin now. Not at this time. Not this late in the game.
But, I want to be fair. The Vice Presidential nomination acceptance speech tonight was a homerun. She started out very poorly, in my opinion, by talking way too much about herself, her family and her time as a PTA mom. It took too long to get to policy. Way too long for a VP nominee who is asking the country to make an uneducated, to be honest, gamble on her.
On pure technical merits alone, she did her job. She excited the GOP audience. She delivered some great one-liners and showed a nice command of important issues such as energy, both traditional and green. At points during the speech, she seemed coached on foreign policy issues, a fact that is slightly scary considering she could be a heartbeat away from the presidency. With John McCain’s cancer history and age, this is a very real concern and not just a piece of hyped propaganda.
Let’s be very clear. Palin is a marketing gimmick and she delivered beautifully. She is a woman with a great stage presence, and that was entirely exploited tonight. She did her job. At least the job the campaign set out for her. It’s very, very unclear if she can do the real job though and that cannot be ascertained in one speech to a willing audience.
Let’s see how she squares off with Joe Biden.