Gaming the Palin Speech

James Fallows writes:

One, of course, was Barack Obama’s keynote at the convention in Boston four years ago. The other, which I remember watching as a schoolboy Goldwaterite, was Ronald Reagan’s speech supporting Goldwater at the San Francisco convention in 1964.

I don’t think Sarah Palin’s speech will be in that category.

One wonders how an ardent anti-Goldwaterite would have reacted to Reagan’s speech supporting Goldwater in 1964 — I’m guessing there would’ve been at least one reference to Bedtime for Bonzo, don’t you?

The speech was surprisingly negative and mocking. You can see why Rush Limbaugh has been such a fan of hers: if these words were delivered by someone older, less attractive, and male, they could have come straight from a Limbaugh radio monologue. The upside here is making “the base” much more enthusiastic than it was before. Potential drawback: having taken this tone, she’s exposed herself to more direct, aggressive attack by the Dems than she has received so far. (So far, the Dems have been able to stand back and let the press do the anti-Palin work.) No more Mr. Nice Guy from Joe Biden or anyone else.

Indeed. Now, how this will help the Democratic ticket remains an open question. I’ve stressed the dangers involved in attacking Palin, and I think those points still stand.

Palin’s mockery clearly struck a chord. One observer — not Fallows, I should stress — has essentially called Palin a liar for suggesting that The Audacity of Hope, which contains lengthy autobiographical passages, is a memoir. Of course, the Chicago Tribune published a story headlined “First Glimpse of Obama’s New Memoirs.” Time published an excerpt under the heading “From the senator’s new memoir, The Audacity of Hope.” Perhaps the news media was guilty of mendacity in both instances. It does seem entirely possible to me that a book can be both a campaign book and a memoir. The genres are not mutually exclusive. My understanding is that they tend to overlap.

Fallows apparently doesn’t believe that the governor of an oil-rich state would have heard of Abqaiq. I am not the governor of an oil-rich states and I am familiar with Abqaiq because I read the newspaper. Is it hard to imagine that civic-minded Alaskans might also be familiar with the vulnerability of energy supplies — particularly familiar, even? I also gave a talk yesterday morning on how stagnant refining capacity and regulations concerning sulfur emissions are shaping the strategic environment. It was really exciting.

I can’t recall any spectacle comparable to Baby Trig being passed from Cindy McCain, to Trig’s 7-year-old sister, to Palin herself when she ended the speech. Her husband looks charming, I have to say.

When was the last time a major presidential candidate had an infant child? Surely this plays some kind of a role. Cindy McCain, lest we forget, is a woman sentimental enough to have adopted a small child from Bangladesh because she couldn’t bear to part with her. Surely it’s not so outlandish that she would want to hold the baby. My mother, who is in her 60s, also likes holding babies. My guess is that my mother — a Democrat, incidentally — would enjoy holding the baby of friendly acquaintances, even if she was sitting in a stadium. Honestly, I find this to be a truly unusual line of criticism. Perhaps Trig should have been left at home? Well, perhaps. It was pretty loud in there. But it might have been odd considering that the Palins were presumably proud of Sarah. One assumes they wanted Trig there as a family. And it can be pretty tiring to hold a baby. I know. I have a nephew. Your arms might fall asleep after too long. As for Piper holding the baby and spit-smoothing his hair, well, perhaps she should have been restrained somehow, but that seems needlessly cruel considering that the kid was otherwise pretty well behaved. Should the shotgun husband have been excluded from the event? Well, he is part of the family, isn’t he?

So: the spectacle would have been less of a spectacle had Trig been kept in a bassinet the entire time, preferably concealed from view; the shotgun husband-to-be had been kept conspicuously absent; etc. Because none of these road rules were recognized, the Palin family can now be subject to withering attack and robust investigation concerning intimate details that aren’t relevant to Palin’s experience and effectiveness.

One assumes the Edwards family doesn’t feel the same way. I was very glad the Times and other respectable organs steered clear of the tabloid gutter and said so. But newspapers and newsmagazines are commercial enterprises, and they need to serve their constituencies.

I have to assume that ardent Republicans hope that Democrats do indeed “take the gloves off” with regards to Palin, and that the media starts to “ask questions” about Piper’s penchant for spit-smoothing hair: I fully expect a rigorous expose concerning the deadly dangers posed by cooties.