Monday, September 29, 2008

They've Got the Fear

(cross-posted at Motley Moose, MyDD, & Daily Kos)

That's right, the GOP is terrified. They're skittish, they're nervous, they're running scared. Not from Obama, of course.


They're afraid of Sarah Palin.

Honestly, can we blame them? Her record is sad enough, but her performance in interviews is abysmal. Anything unscripted, and she's in trouble. Here we have Ms. Palin seeming none too sure about what that mysterious "Bush Doctrine" might be:

At first I thought they were just a trifle nervous, but since the Couric interview their reaction to her seems to more closely resemble outright horror. And her performance was unquestionably both horrible and terror-inducing. If John McCain reaches the White House, a woman who thinks living near Russia gives her foreign policy experience is going to be a mere heartbeat (and a 72-year-old heartbeat at that) away from the Presidency. McCain is frightening, but Palin far more so. From the environment to healthcare, her positions are about as offensive as they come. Her position on abortion, a repudiation of it even in cases of rape and incest, is one which nauseates most staunch conservatives. If we think think Roe is in danger under the assault of a McCain administration, more unsettling still is the thought of the all-out crusade Palin will wage against it. If we're nervous about the prospect of having a president who doesn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites without Joe Lieberman whispering in his ear, we should be doubly terrified by the prospect of having a president who seems to believe that trade missions to Russia qualify as a form of negotiation with a foreign power.

CBS News reports that skittish conservatives are now asking Palin to bow out.
Palin, new to national politics, boosted Republican presidential nominee John McCain in polls and excited the party's core conservatives when he chose the first-term governor for his ticket.

Some of that shine has since worn off in polls.
And no plea has been louder or stronger than that of conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, who has desperately begged Palin to exit the race gracefully for the sake of her country. Once an enthusiastic supporter of the young governor from Alaska, Parker now writes:
When Palin first emerged as John McCain’s running mate, I confess I was delighted. She was the antithesis and nemesis of the hirsute, Birkenstock-wearing sisterhood — a refreshing feminist of a different order who personified the modern successful working mother.

[. . .]

It was fun while it lasted.

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there.

[. . .]

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

What to do?

McCain can’t repudiate his choice for running mate. He not only risks the wrath of the GOP’s unforgiving base, but he invites others to second-guess his executive decision-making ability.

[. . .]

Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Do it for your country.
Laughable though it is that Ms. Parker should describe the ultimate anti-feminist as a charasmatic feminist icon, she makes a number of good points (even a broken clock is right twice a day). Another conservative columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez, who could still be described as a Palin supporter, seems almost as disturbed by her party's nominee for vice president as her peers, writing:
But I also watch these interviews and I cringe a little. That Russia answer with Couric. Oy. It was a loaded question to be sure. But I thought a certain governor of Alaska had told us this was a time for no blinking. For (Uncle) Sam’s sake. You’re Sarah Palin. You’re governor of Alaska. You’re the mom of five. You’re married to a tough guy. You can handle America’s Former Sweetheart. And yet, you didn’t. She may have come off catty, but you came off hesitant and unprepared. What happened to the pitbull? I see the lipstick.

I don’t know Sarah Palin. Having missed the last cruise to Alaska, I’ve actually never met her. National Review wasn’t on her list of stops this week in New York. So I can’t pretend to know what her wiring is all about. But I know I like a lot of what I’ve heard her say. I also know a lot of what I like about her could be projection. I’m not where my friend Kathleen Parker is — wanting her to step aside to spend more time with her family and Alaska — but that’s not a crazy suggestion. She's right to say that something’s gotta change.
My personal disgust for Palin is off the charts. As a former (and current) Clinton supporter, my vision momentarily went red when she attempted to compare herself to Hillary. Using her "18 million cracks" line and asserting that she could prove capable of breaking the glass ceiling herself -- after doing nothing, accomplishing less, and offending the sensibilities of every reasonable American -- infuriated me. One would be hard pressed to find someone more opposed to Palin as a candidate and as a person than I am. Still, even I cringe watching her interviews. A great deal of cringing followed by a greater amount of laughter. But I almost feel sorry for the people who feel obligated to support this woman. Even my mother, once a Palin fan herself and a proud Republican, admitted after seeing clips of the Couric interview that she's terrified of the idea of Palin running the nation.

So how does the GOP respond?

As everyone will recall, first they managed to harass the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates until it was agreed that the vice presidential debate format would allow for shorter answer segments, their hope being that Governor Palin would have less time to embarrass herself, her state, her party, her running mate, and her nation. From the New York Times:
At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.
Now it seems that the McCain campaign has shipped Palin off to Arizona for "debate camp", apparently a more intensive exercise than the usual debate prep a candidate typically receives. Meanwhile the Obama camp is wisely playing the expectations game with the media, touting Palin's (undoubtedly formidable) debate skills and anticipating a lively, spirited debate between Palin and Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Joe Biden. With current expectations for Palin's performance being set so low in the wake of three painful interviews, we have legitimate reason to fear that a mediocre performance would be lauded by the MSM as outstanding. At this point, the Obama campaign building her up as a talented debater is a skillful move.
"We've looked at tapes of Gov. Palin's debates, and she's a terrific debater," Plouffe told reporters on a conference call. "She has performed very, very well. She's obviously a skilled speaker. We expect she'll give a great performance next Thursday." [...]

"She's obviously prepping this weekend in Pennsylvania," Plouffe continued. "Anyone who watches any of her previous debates would be impressed by her debating skills."
There was a time when I was afraid of Sarah Palin. She fired up the lethargic conservative base (though she fired ours up as well) and got the sort of positive media coverage Barack and Hillary could only dream of. But her star has fallen, the MSM and the country are onto her. She'll do more to sink McCain's campaign than he will (and he's currently doing his utmost). So thank you, Governor Palin. Stay in the race. Make a fool of yourself Thursday night as we watch and laugh.

Do it for your country.


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