For people interested in politics, Sarah Palin is the only story in town at the moment. So I offer below excerpts from three good commentaries about her. Most of the Leftist attacks on her are too pathetic to be dignified with a reply but I do mention one of them below. For the rest, see the great job being done by my co-bloggers at STACLU and Astute Bloggers -- JR
Palin Could Make the Difference In This Close Race
By KARL ROVE
A running mate can have a larger "indirect effect." Mr. Campbell argued the VP choice "emphasized a strength or weakness" for the presidential candidate. Who VP nominees are and how they are selected provide voters information about the values and decision-making abilities of the candidate. This year, both Messrs. McCain and Obama made political picks, not governing choices. The political targets were not states, but attributes and voting blocs.
Mr. McCain made a dramatic, unexpected pick of someone who shares his maverick outsider attitude and is willing to challenge party orthodoxy and politics-as-usual. He selected a gun-owning, hockey-coaching, small-business-running mother of five. As a governor, Sarah Palin is the only candidate on either ticket with executive experience, heading a state government with an $11.2 billion operating budget, a $1.7 billion capital budget and nearly 29,000 state employees. Best of all for Mr. McCain, Mrs. Palin potentially appeals to suburban, independent women and small-town Hillary Clinton voters.
Messrs. Petrocik and Shaw suggest Mrs. Palin might have more impact on the election than previous running mates. If Mrs. Palin is seen as a defective candidate, it will hurt Mr. McCain. On the positive side, however, Mrs. Palin's background could lead voters to see her as someone who understands kitchen-table concerns.
Taking on Alaska's good-old-boy politics and beating the incumbent Republican governor might be seen as evidence of the political courage and independence voters are looking for this year. And with women more undecided than men, Mrs. Palin could add more than a point to Mr. McCain's total -- maybe two or three -- which could make the difference in a close contest.
The threat Mrs. Palin poses is why Mr. Obama's campaign has moved rapidly to disparage her record, and why left-wing bloggers have engaged in nonstop character smears against her and her family. Some in the press have aided and abetted this because they feel left out of the preannouncement vetting process. The danger for Democrats is twofold: in highlighting Mrs. Palin's inexperience, they may focus attention on Mr. Obama's; and the harsh attacks levied against Mrs. Palin could completely undermine the Obama promise of a "new politics." In the vice-presidential debate, Democrats must be concerned about Mr. Biden appearing bombastic and condescending -- which is almost a permanent state of mind for the Delaware senator -- while Mrs. Palin comes across as fresh, straight talking, nonpolitical and therefore appealing.
No enthusiasm gap now
Twenty years after Ronald Reagan left office, Republicans who have long missed him may have found a future Margaret Thatcher. If John McCain wins, conservatives may find one of the most enduring accomplishments of his term will have been what he did before it started: helping to fill the Republican Party's future talent bench with such a fresh and compelling figure. Sarah Palin is a conviction politician, a naturally compelling speaker and someone who can relate to her audience on very human terms. America has just learned why Mrs. Palin enjoys the highest approval ratings of any governor in America.
Some hard-bitten political observers I know were uncharacteristically impressed with the Palin speech. Hal Stratton, a former Attorney General of New Mexico, wrote to me as follows: "That's what we out west call openin' a whole can of whip a- on your opponents."
Sarah Palin probably went down better in Warren, Michigan than she did in Washington, D.C. -- but that was the whole point of her speech and her candidacy. Indeed, while Mrs. Palin certainly won't swing any deeply blue states in John McCain's direction, she may have an impact in swaying independent voters as well as boosting GOP turnout in swing states such as Colorado, Nevada and Michigan.
One of the standard operating theories this Election Year is that Barack Obama and the Democrats are much more energized, excited and willing to work hard for victory in November. After Sarah Palin's remarkably effective speech, I don't think any pundits or politicians will be able to count on a decisive Democratic enthusiasm edge. Sarah Palin electrified the hall, and from what I can tell from my e-mail inbox that excitement is being replicated in living rooms across the country.
Sarah Palin's Surge
With his nomination last night, John McCain is now the leader of the GOP (see here). But win or lose in November, Senator McCain has elevated Mrs. Palin to new prominence and jumbled Republican categories in a healthy way. The reaction at St. Paul's Xcel Center-and the fascination around the country-shows how welcome this is.
For the past several years, the GOP has been caught in the malaise of what we have often called the Beltway status quo. As insurgents challenging Washington mores in the 1980s and 1990s, Republicans were the party of ideas and energy. But over time, as the Bush Presidency ran into trouble and the Tom DeLay Congress began to care most about its own re-election, the party lost its verve, even its raison d'etre.
On Wednesday, Governor Palin offered a new populist excitement, both as a messenger and in her message. By "messenger," we aren't merely referring to her gender, though that seems to be the preoccupation of the media. Her relative youth (44) and large family-complete with its many complications-were themselves a cultural statement. Though many in the media claim she was chosen because she appealed to the Christian right, Mrs. Palin never even raised the subject of abortion. She didn't have to, since her youngest son, the one with special needs, is proof enough of her pro-life conviction.
The same goes for her record of challenging the powers that be in Alaska. With so many Republicans tainted by corruption, GOP voters have been aching for someone willing to challenge that business as usual. By all accounts, Mrs. Palin has done so in Alaska, and is popular for it. In the coming weeks, we'll learn more about her Alaska record, and rightly so. Her governing record is fair-even essential-media game, in contrast to her daughter Bristol's pregnancy.
It's being said that in choosing Governor Palin, Mr. McCain was making a play for disaffected Hillary Clinton voters. Yet we heard just one line invoke women as a political issue, and then only in a positive sense: "This is America, and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity." Our sense is that the Governor's real political potential lies in her appeal to Reagan Democrats and Truman Republicans, voters Mr. McCain will need in November.
Mrs. Palin was certainly helped this week by the media contempt for her selection. The condescension has been so thick that it offended not just Republicans in St. Paul but others who may have tuned in Wednesday to see if she was as unqualified as Sally Quinn and David Frum said she was. Mrs. Palin's refusal to be cowed is the kind of triumph over media disdain that most Americans relish.
Last Week's Economic News Was a Big Shot in the Arm For McCain: "John McCain may have won the presidential election on Thursday, Aug. 28. That was before Barack Obama gave his stirring acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention. It was four days before the Republican Convention even started. It was also before the media leaked the name of Sarah Palin as Mr. McCain's chosen vice-presidential running mate. Why Aug. 28? On that morning the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its assessment of GDP growth in the second quarter of this year. Rather than growing at the anemic pace of 1.9% as reported in July, the April-June quarter actually registered a healthy GDP growth rate of 3.3%. Growth at this rate exceeds the long-term U.S. growth rate of 3.1% over the past 50 years. Bill Clinton was right. When it comes to presidential elections, "It's the economy stupid."
A prominent Clinton fundraiser has jumped ship and joined the McCain camp: "The legendary Tammy Haddad snags a scoop for Newsweek, sitting down with prominent Washington DC attorney John Coale -- a fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY -- at the Republican convention, now backing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "Well I'm here to go from supporting Hillary, who I campaigned with, I campaigned with her husband, her daughter, her whole family, brothers, and the mother, over a period of months, big Hillary supporter, pretty big fundraiser for her, I'm here to support John McCain for president," said Coale, husband of FOX News' Greta Van Susteren. Coale has given thousands of dollars in donations to Democrats over the years. ... "I think John McCain is basically what Obama says he is and what Obama is not," Coale said. "McCain brings people together, he has an incredible record of integrity." Coale griped about sexism against Clinton, said Obama isn't experienced enough to be president, and argued that the Democratic party has "been taken over by the moveon.org types."
Not again: Palin "slashes" another children's program.... by increasing funding: "The Kossified media strikes again. In the wee hours of the morning yesterday, I told you about the Washington Post's false accusation that Gov. Sarah Palin "slashed" funding for a teen pregnancy program, when in reality, there was "over a threefold increase from the government funds they received from all sources in 2006. Many of you have contacted the WaPo ombudsperson about the lie. But she is apparently on vacation until next week. Keep after it - because the meme is spreading. The NYTimes has now recycled WaPo's nonsense with this apoplectic headline: "Palin's Budget Cuts Affect Teenage Mothers." And now, via Brian Faughnan, there's this new smear using liberal math to decry Palin's alleged "slashing" of special-needs funds. They're so screamingly desperate..... The Washington Monthly has retracted the accusation and regrets the error. What about the rest of the MSM?"
For more postings from me, see OBAMA WATCH, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
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