My initial thoughts on Palin's speech have me saying that she did a good job, but it could have been better. It was at best a decent speech and at worst a mediocre affair. I liked the humor injected into it, and she is a pretty good public speaker. My main issues with a lot of it is that it, in the Associated Press' words, "stretched the truth" in many aspects. There were also some attacks on Obama that I thought were uncalled for and were absent from the Democrats' speeches last week.
One of the first issues I had with the speech was this Iraq business. The McCain camp continues to say that McCain is a man of principles because he would rather lose an election than lose a war and that victory is in sight (both concepts mentioned by Palin). The problem with this is that victory has not been clearly defined by anyone involved. Is victory even possible at this point, with the country's deficit where it is, over 4,000 service men and women dead, disgusting treatment of soldiers returning home, private contractors exploiting the situation, and misleading intelligence and deceitful government leaders? If the McCain campaign wants to continue using this campaign schtick, they need a definitive meaning of what victory in Iraq is.
Then Palin went into a long diatribe about her family and what they all do and all of that. At this point the cameras were focused on the row of Palins (and one Johnston) in the crowd, and I noticed two distinct things about them. The first is that Levi Johnston looked like he was very uncomfortable. I feel bad for this kid. One minute he has impregnated his girlfriend in a small town in Alaska, and next he is flown to St. Paul for the whole world to see, sitting with his pregnant girlfriend who he is supposed to marry. He went from being a "fuckin redneck" looking to "kick ass" who was a big fish in a small pond in Alaska to an object of curiosity for 300 million Americans overnight. The other thing I noticed is, how the hell does that baby Trig sleep through all of this? From being passed around on stage a few days ago to listening to his mother's speech as people are standing up and screaming, he sleeps through it all. Unbelievable.
After her little family ditty, Palin went into a bit about small-town folks and compared herself to Harry Truman, the same man who used nuclear weapons against the Japanese at the end of World War II. In an era when we are in a war we should not be and the Republican party (McCain especially) are seen as true hawks, to compare oneself to Truman is not the best comparison to make in my opinion.
Then there was one line (which I had already read in an excerpt of the speech before she made it, so was expecting) that I thought was a little ridiculous. When she said that being a small-time mayor is "like a community organizer, only you have responsibilities," I thought it crossed the line. It was a shot not only at Obama, but every community organizer in the country who donates their time and effort to make a better community for the people living in them. Spending a good amount of time at my local Boys and Girls Club growing up (which is run by community organizers), I resent her statement saying that community organizers have no responsibilities. She talks a lot about "the people" and giving back to "the people." If she really knew about how "the people" are, then she would know how important community organizers can be to a community's people.
She also made an assertion that John McCain is a straight-talker and always "the same man." This YouTube video here begs to differ. It has become almost common knowledge that his campaign bus, "The Straight Talk Express," is a misnomer. In fact, there were many things in her speech that stretched the truth, as I alluded to earlier. The AP put together a little fact-checking article about this and it is an interesting read.
A few final negative points about the speech: she talks about her ticket being the one of "true reform." Is focusing on drilling rather than alternative fuels really "true reform." No, it's just giving us more of the same: oil. That's not reform. If an alcoholic is going broke from buying booze, would reform be giving him cheaper booze? Another line in Palin's speech that made me bristle was the one that says Al-Qaeda is "planning to inflict catastrophic damage" upon America and Obama is worried about someone reading them their rights, as if it were the worst thing in the world. In our justice system, everyone has rights. Obviously one's first reaction to a child rapist or a ruthless murderer is to kill them with one's own bare hands because they're scum. But, as John Adams once wrote, we are a nation of laws, not men. Plus, cases like Miranda v. Arizona, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, and Boumediene v. Bush outline the rights for detainees in criminal and enemy combatant cases. Contrary to popular belief, these detainees have rights that the Supreme Court have outlined. So I guess what Palin was trying to say was that while she puts her blinders on and goes hunting for terrorists, Obama has the audacity to respect the law.
With all of these negative points, there is one thing I agreed with that Palin said. She said that when one is not a member of the political elite in Washington, they get a lot of kickback and rough initiation, for a lack of a better word, from the mainstream media. We saw it with Obama (Reverend Wright, George Stephanopoulos being an assclown). The media is now turning on Palin, with non-stop coverage of her pregnant teenage daughter. It's one thing to report on it once, maybe point out that Palin is pro-abstinence-only education, but to try to say that Bristol herself would have benefited from it (there's no way to know that at all) or to just rumor monger in general is taking it too far. So while Palin is being picked on a bit in the media, it's a two-way street, as Obama got his earlier in the campaign.
All in all, Palin gave a decent speech and she was well-spoken. The problem was that her facts were a bit off and she crossed the line with the community organizers line about responsibility. I have nothing against her as a person, I simply do not agree with her policies on nearly anything. She's going through a tough time with her family and I do not think that they were ready for the national scrutiny that awaited them with her accepting the VP spot. It's important to remember, however, that just as the media is digging into her life, the other candidates got it just as well. To sum up: she needed to do an unbelievable job last night and she did an OK one. Peace.
Photos - Palin with members of her family (and soon-to-be family) on stage at the RNC (www.latimesblogs.latimes.com), Palin delivering her speech (news.sky.com), McCain greeting Palin and her husband (www.huffingtonpost.com), Sarah Palin yesterday (www.washingtonpost.com)