Your Lying Eyes

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04 September 2008

The 'It' Girl

I was pretty confident Sarah Palin would bring down the house in her speech last night a couple hours before she went on stage. James Carville, who knows these horse races like few do, was commenting on one of the cable networks, and remarked that "anyone can read a speech off a teleprompter...every acceptance speech is a 'good' speech..." He was clearly trying to pre-empt what he knew would be a dazzling performance.

The fact is, not everyone can read a speech off a teleprompter. Well, simply read one, yes, but very few can bring it alive, let the words float amongst the audience and through the TV screen, and rivet the attention of millions of viewers. One need only look at the speeches by the two immensely accomplished women who preceded her. Both former CEOs of major corporations. They clearly could 'read' off the teleprompter, but their words died the moment they spoke them. Or even Rudy Giuliani, who knows how to engage a crowd, but is clearly stringing together lines written down. Or, most notoriously, Hillary Clinton, whose delivery veers from sing-songy to grating to toe-curlingly strident with each change in tone of the written word she's delivering.

Giving a speech is a performance like all other performances, and a speaker is a performer like any other performer. Think of an actor, or a singer (for example, the finalists on American Idol). Some performers are barely competent; some can be affecting; some even inspirational. But there are the very rare individuals who seem to consume the entire volume of the hall, who take up every bit of air in the room, and who simply dominate an entire performance-space. That is Sarah Palin, as it is Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and as it was Ronald Reagan. There is no definable characteristic of this quality; it cannot be described and there is no handbook. It's what makes Mick Jagger Mick Jagger and every other singer not Mick Jagger.

The other point brought up later by Pat Buchanan is that "she is interesting." That's a quality she has that Obama doesn't, but it's a quality that cuts both ways. That's why the rumors keep spreading and have such traction - it's all believable, because anything about this woman is believable. Is Barack Obama a communist? He's too boring to be a communist. Did Sarah Palin have an affair with her husband's business partner, did she pretend to be pregnant while sending her pregnant daughter off to have a baby with Downs Syndrome that she then pretended was her own, did she fight hard and successfully for $millions in earmarks then make a sudden about-face and decry them, did she badger the public safety commissioner to fire her no-good former brother-in-law then turn around and fire the commissioner when he refused, all the while building up an 80% approval rating? Sure, sounds plausible to me - any scenario is plausible with this woman.

The danger she poses to the Democrats' hopes and dreams this year is obvious from the furious reaction she provokes. She has got me wanting to vote for McCain just from her own energy and the fury of her enemies. But I'm determined to resist. The wealthy in this country do not deserve any more tax cuts (or to keep the ones they've already gotten) until they can prove they will invest their surpluses in jobs for American citizens. And we do not need to spend more money on defense, or be belligerent towards foreign governments that pose no direct threat to our safety. Sarah Palin won't change this in a McCain administration (at least I have no basis for believing she would). But for now, I'm content to kick back and enjoy the show.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All you need to know is the negativity coming from the usual suspects: the press, liberals, leftists...They are afraid and they should be.

September 04, 2008 1:09 PM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

... God help America ....

September 04, 2008 10:06 PM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

Issues aside... McCain will get a 4 to 5 point bump on the Nationals, and that´s about it, mostly thanks to this extremely unqualified women who reads an effective speech written by the same attack dogs who have been keeping things rolling for the last 7 1/2 years... I think you mentioned Goebbels recently Ziel. Yes he would be proud... Obama boring? Have you seen the YouTube of Obama in Minn and McCain in New Orleans green? Obama is the most electrifying politician on the national scene in years... and he at least has the balls to go on Fox with Bill O when McCain can´t even get it up for f...king Larry King...

Enough already Ziel... For f...ks sake...

September 04, 2008 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... oh yeah... "anonymous" enough of the "blame the liberal media" bulls..t... you´re a f...king idiot...

September 04, 2008 10:26 PM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

... by the way, that latest anonymous was me...

September 04, 2008 10:29 PM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

One last thing... you know what is really boring Ziel... THIS IS!!! Over and out...

September 04, 2008 10:33 PM  
Blogger Black Sea said...

I just posted this, more or less, at ParaPundit, but if you don't mind, I'll do the same here, with a little editing:

Palin and her family represent a working class family of "abundance." They work hard and they make very good money, particularly by working class standards. They can afford to raise five kids, and if one of the kids get's knocked up, well, they can handle that too. She'll get married and she and the father will start a life together, with no doubt some financial and moral support from the family. They may seem a little reckless by modern (i.e. timid) American suburban standards, but they don't seem afraid, which is crucial.

This election will probably be decided by working and lower-ish middle class whites in the swing states of the industrial heartland (I'm including Pennsylvania here). From the standpoint of political theater (which is all we're really talking about) Palin plays enormously well with this demographic.

These people have taken a beating the past 30 years; their jobs are playing out or being shipped overseas; if they do the sort of work their parents did, they don't make anything like the same kind of income, nor do they enjoy the equivalent quality of life. They're much more focused on what they're likely to lose over the next five years rather than what they might gain. I'm talking here about working to lower middle class voters whose values are mostly Republican, but whose economic fears steer them toward the Democrats.

Plain is a powerful antidote to all this. Her (no-doubt glamourized) personal and political biography will remind many such voters of their childhoods, when working people made decent money, jobs were fairly easy to come by, and neighborhoods were fairly serene and safe. Such neighborhoods were often run by Sarah Palin types, women who stayed at home, took care of the kids, and, then, once the kids were old enough, switched to a paycheck job without batting an eye. All of this will resonate very well with such voters, and tap into their nostalgia for a less anxious and uncertain America.

By the way, none of this is to say that she'd make an effective president. I'm just examining how she plays symbolically to a crucial voting block.

September 05, 2008 6:56 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Obama is boring, as a person. He's electrifying as a speaker, he has a fascinating bio which is only discussed in the most boring terms because we're not allowed to discuss it as it actually occurred (abandoned by drunk/polygamist/marxist/Kenyan father, mom knocked up at 17, Indonesian stepfather, abondoned by mom, raised by hard-working, successful grandma and commie grandpa), and his personality is boring.

September 05, 2008 7:50 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Black Sea - I think you've hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, now that she's become a part of McCain's campaign and has no opportunity to be her own person, she will be consumed by that train wreck. Hopefully, she'll find ways to be her own person.

September 05, 2008 7:52 AM  
Anonymous jbob said...

Black Sea, I appreciate your analysis of Palin´s appeal to that huge demographic pop... but as I mentioned in one of Ziel´s other posts, SHE´S NOT AT THE TOP OF THE TICKET... a "trainwreck" is...

Ziel... how else do we know these people (politicians), but as public speakers... Who IS exciting? You, me...? This Alaskan woman because she can gut a moose? And who cares anyway?

September 05, 2008 3:15 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Who is exciting? Like, no one. Obama, Palin, Bill Clinton, that's all I've seen since the master.

September 05, 2008 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jimbo,
Yes, I'm a fucking idiot and so on...But you may have missed the CNN running ticker when Palin was making her speech. The liberal media is in the tank for Obama. Has been since day 1. Denying this is dishonest/ignorant. Judging by your comments, I'd say both apply to you.

September 06, 2008 12:09 AM  

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