Balkinization  

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Terminator: The Sarah Palin Chronicles

JB

Sarah Palin's speech last night was hard hitting, over the top if not downright inaccurate at points, and showed that if she survives the plethora of scandals swirling around her, she will be an excellent attacker as a Vice-Presidential candidate. The Republican base clearly loved her, and she clearly knows how to give a big public speech of this sort. It was a very good speech, if not a particularly truthful one. I came away quite impressed.

The more interesting question is how she will handle herself as the media begin to pick holes at the various claims she made in her speech, and ask her embarrassing questions about previous positions she has taken. I haven't yet seen any q and a with reporters. By now there are surely many questions they would like to ask her one on one, and many questions she would probably want to defer answering.

The Republican Party has now decided that the best defense is a good offense, so we can expect more of the same from Palin. Her job, in essence, is to be the Terminator so that John McCain can appear to be above party and above partisanship. The more time she spends attacking Obama, the more she tempts Obama to attack her back, which, of course, is not their best strategy. Their best strategy is to attack John McCain.

What this means is that Sarah Palin is likely to become a very polarizing figure, one who speaks repeatedly and directly to the base in order to get them enthusiastic about fighting the wicked Democrats. That is to say, the plan appears for her to be Spiro Agnew rather than Dan Quayle. She may turn out to be quite good at this.

If the goal of the Palin pick is to fire up the Republican base, Palin may work out well; the more people attack her, the more the base will support her. But if the goal is to help portray McCain as a moderate who can appeal to independents, it may be somewhat less successful. Polarizing figures tend to be less good at attracting people in the middle, at least if you don't have an even more polarizing figure running to your right, as Nixon did in 1968.

The Republicans, for better or worse, however, seem to have fixed on a polarizing Rove-style campaign, impugning the patriotism of the Democrats, and throwing large chunks of red meat to the base, as they did in 2002 and 2004. Will it work again in 2008? I think the country has changed in four years. I suspect they have gone to the well once too often. We will know in November.

Comments:

I agree that Obama should not attack Palin but I think Biden needs to on two grounds.

1. Last night, Palin repudiated the Bush/Republican approach to government. The Democrats should say they are happy that the Republican candidate agrees that the DC pigsty must be swept clean. But, then ask, what are the chances that would happen with McCain voting the Bush/Republican approach over and over.

2. Based on her past positions on the issues, Palin is out of step with the mainstream. Thinking God made us start the Iraq War is over the top, as is her position on so many issues.
 

She's not being attacked because of her views on the issues, she's being attacked for who she is. That's why you attacked her--and her teenage daughter--in such personal terms.

Why is Palin being attacked? Because she didn't go to a fancy school, much less a fancy law school. She married her high school sweetheart. She had kids--five of them. She didn't have an abortion when she found out she was carrying a child with Down's syndrome. Her unmarried pregnant teenage daughter isn't going to have an abortion. She worked in not-so-glamorous jobs, and her husband still does. He's blue collar. He didn't go to a fancy law school. It doesn't look like any of the kids are on their way to any fancy schools either.

It's all so...embarrassing. Doesn't she know? Why doesn't she want to be just like us?

If you think the "base" of the Republican party is working class and middle class folks leading lives like Sarah Palin's, I can only say I hope you're right. Keep condescending to these voters.
 

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Thomas:

She's not being attacked because of her views on the issues, she's being attacked for who she is. That's why you attacked her--and her teenage daughter--in such personal terms.

What a Pile'O'Crapola™....

Do you know that it's a sin to lie?

Why is Palin being attacked? Because she didn't go to a fancy school, much less a fancy law school...

That might well bear on her ability to understand the laws ... and the Constitution.

... She married her high school sweetheart....

Which I have said nothing about.

... She had kids--five of them. She didn't have an abortion when she found out she was carrying a child with Down's syndrome....

Which I have said nothing about.

... Her unmarried pregnant teenage daughter isn't going to have an abortion....

The only thing I've said here is that she ought to have told her daughter (and her daughter's boyfriend) that there "Just say no" is a rather poor form of birth control when you actually have sex.

... She worked in not-so-glamorous jobs, and her husband still does....

I don't dislike "not-so-glamorous jobs". I drove piles myself to earn extra bucks while in college (and that's not a very pleasant job).

... He's blue collar. He didn't go to a fancy law school. It doesn't look like any of the kids are on their way to any fancy schools either.

My point was that they're either unedjoomakated or ignerrent (or dissembling) ... if they dispute global warming, want "creationism" taught in schools, and want to ban books.

... It's all so...embarrassing. Doesn't she know? Why doesn't she want to be just like us?
She can be whoever she wants to be .. and as stoopid as she wants to be. I can want her not to be a heartbeat away from the "leader of the Free World™" and the finger on the nuclear button.

HAven't we had enough of "beer-drinking buddy" losers running this country into the ground?!?!?

If you think the "base" of the Republican party is working class and middle class folks leading lives like Sarah Palin's, I can only say I hope you're right. Keep condescending to these voters.

Sorry, chum, but I call stoopid "stoopid". And make no bones about it.

Maybe you're of the Roman Hruska opinion that not only mediocrity, but stoopidity and ignerrence need representation. Sorry, I can't understand that 'logic'.

See this:

11. Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

Palin: "Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance."


Sorry. Not ready for prme time ... except as a sound bite on Jon Stewart's TDS.

Cheers,
 

Well Thomas,

I think YOU are completely delusional. I couldn't care less who Sarah Palin is as a person, but for what it's worth she seems like a nice enough person to me.

The problem is that she's also a right-wing nut-job who is completely unfit to hold any position of public trust, her current job included. That's got nothing to to with her educational back-ground, it's strictly a matter of her deluded political beliefs, her intellectual dishonesty, and her very apparent lack of any real understanding.

In short, she's just another dishonest Republican, and as John Yoo has illustrated rather decisively over the last seven years, blue-chip academic credentials aren't woith much when someone is as profoundly dishonest as you Republican are. You people are simply fools who are impervious to human reason.
 

Thomas, I believe Palin is being attacked for her (a) lack of experience and lack of interest/knowledge in any national or international, (b) radical positions/assocaitions (i.e. creationism in public schools, association with an Alaskan secessionist group, (c) scandal (Troopergate), and (d) inaccurate statements about her work (she raised taxes not cut them, she supported the bridge to nowhere and it was a platform she used to get votes as governor) and substantively inaccurate statements and attacks in her first major speech.

People also attack her because of the ridiculous defenses put up by the Republicans -- Alaska being close to Russia gives her international experience, her governorship/mayoral position makes her especially qualified (apparently like every governor and large city mayor, regardless of tenure) to be VP/President.

The attacks on her family come mainly because her family was used as a reason to support her -- she didn't abort her child and her daughter won't either, etc. I don't agree with these attacks, but I also don't agree with her being great because she didn't abort her children (isn't that the definition of pro-life?).

My final question is more pertinent to your point -- why is there so much animosity towards being educated at good schools? Parents want the best for their kids, so I think any parent would want their children to get admitted to and succeed at top schools and do well in their careers. This is particularly true if you are from a middle class family (I actually am from the south side of Chicago as well). Being at a top school is an accomplishment because of the difficulty of gaining entry. Receiving great marks at a top school is amazing because of the level of competition. Going to Columbia and Harvard from Obama's background is an immense achievement and his success on law review is a mark of this acheivement.

Somehow you (in a collective Republican convention sense, not you personally) find this success to be less remarkable. Personally I want a president to be someone who is extremely intelligent, driven, insightful and an acheiver. In other words, I want them to be different than most people (including at times myself) who come home after work, have a beer and watch reality TV and sports.

If I have some important medical problem, I don't look down on a doctor who went to good schools and performed well just because of their academic and professional success. When large corporate matters are undertaken by businesses, they don't disapprove of having lawyers trained at the top institutions with experience in complex matters.

Yet somehow Republicans decided that the president, who deals with complex issues across a broad spectrum of areas every day, should not be someone who is well-educated or extremely successful. This education and success makes them an elitist (no matter their middle class background) and therefore we don't want them making these complex decisions for our country. In fact, their success in life makes them an elitist (despite a middle class background) and their success is something we should mock about them.

Personally I don't understand why Republicans want such success in your doctor, lawyer, vet, accountant and, amazingly, your family, but mock such success when it is a presidential candidate. For me, I think the president being incredibly successful and intelligent is more important than the education of any other professionals affecting my life, particularly when they also can relate to and conmmunicate with people well like Obama. But somehow such success for presidential candidates is mocked by Republicans.
 

Maybe she's really being attacked for claiming to be a reformer when she's been working hand in hand getting earmarks (including almost $2m on McCain's "wasteful earmarks" list) with Ted Stevens, Don Young, and even with Jack Abramoff's lobbyist pals? Or maybe because she seems to have fired people with no good reason? Or maybe it's because she claims she's going to be an advocate for supporting children with Down's syndrome, but she actually cut Alaska's budget for that by over 50%?

So many choices... It's sort of like questioning Mitt (Harvard Business and Law schools, then Boston stock trader and MA Governor) about his attack on the east coast elite, or Rudy (where was he mayor?) for his praise of small town values.
 

Thomas is a habitually dishonest partisan, who really doesn't merit the thoughtful responses he's received.

Y'all are wasting your time.

-- Re: JB's post, I think that Palin's base-wrangling may free up McCain to play to the independents. At least, that would be the smart strategy.
 

Hopefully, McCain will need to spend so much time defending Palin that he won't be able to do much appealng to independents.

The other question is, what are Bush/Cheney and Co. going to be doing while we're being distracted by Palin? Maybe that's the real play - they're hoping to win a war (by trashing the government) even if they need to lose an election to do it?
 

"Why is Palin being attacked?"

Oh, give me a break.

The right will always frame the issue within their own political framework.

Any legitimate questions about Palin will be called "attacks" folks... that's just how they roll.
 

If the goal of the Palin pick is to fire up the Republican base, Palin may work out well; the more people attack her, the more the base will support her. But if the goal is to help portray McCain as a moderate who can appeal to independents, it may be somewhat less successful.

With an 80% approval rating in Alaska obtained in part by working with Dems and Indis, I think Palin has had some success in this area.

GOP success at the presidential level using variations of the Palin/ Reagan playbook indicates that Indis and conservative Dems also eat this stuff up.
 

I agree with what Charles Gittings says above about Governor Palin.

Having been a supporter of women's rights all my days, I have to confess that she made me wonder momentarily whether John Knox did not have a point:

"For who can denie but it is repugneth to nature, that the blind shall be appointed to leade and conduct such as do see? That the weake, the sicke and impotent persons shall norishe and kepe the hole and strong? And finallie, that the foolishe, madde and phrenetike shal governe the discrete and give counsel to such as be sober of mind. And such be al women, compared unto man in bearing of authoritie. For their sight in civile regiment is but blindness; their strength, weaknes; their counsel, foolishnes; and judgment, phrensie, if it be rightlie considered." - A First Blast of the Trumpet against The Monstrous Regiment of Women - John Knox: 1553

Then I thought of all the women who are generally admired and realised the sexism: we accept that some (male) politicians are "foolish, madde and phrenetike" and although we may say that is because they are Neoconservatives, or whatever, we do not say it is because of their gender.

Could it be that the sort of language we accept as inevitable if regrettable when coming from the various "loathsome spotted reptiles" just sounds so much worse to older males when coming from what we like to think of as "the gentle sex"?
 

Mourad:

Palin ought to remind you of a certain Iron Lady who is easier on the eyes.
 

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The spinning exhibited by Bart and Thomas is almost enough get one reaching for the Antivert, especially since you know damn well their first reaction (like everyone else's) to McCain selecting Palin was "What the f**k?".
Living here in Michigan, the parallels between Alaska's governor and Detroit's mayor are striking. Like Kwame Kilpatrick, who fired his city's police chief when he refused to overlook possible criminal activity by the mayor or his cronies, Palin fired her state's police chief when he refused her demands he fire her brother-in-law cop who just happened to be involved in child custody battle with her sister.
Then, of course, there's the sex angle, with Kilpatrick and his adolescent text messaging scandal involving his mistress, while Palin chooses to send her pregnant adolescent and the kid who knocked her up proudly parading around the Republican convention (now there's a message we want to be sending our teenagers).
With Palin on the ticket, I look for an entertaining couple of months, in an Enquirer kind of way, the same way the local papers have been detailing every salacious tidbit of the Kilpatrick saga.
 

GOP success at the presidential level using variations of the Palin/ Reagan playbook indicates that Indis and conservative Dems also eat this stuff up.

What stuff? Reagan was very careful NOT to engage in the divisive rhetoric that Palin uses except when he was speaking ONLY to a narrow audience. This is why he never personally appeared at the anti-Roe v. Wade rally held every year; he addressed the rally by telephone.

Palin's speech is much closer to Pat Buchanan's in 1992-- which the conservative base LOVED and praised. You don't put this stuff on national television and expect to attract swing voters.
 

palin as thatcher!

is that meant as a joke. thatcher earned a masters in science from Oxford on scholarship. (sorta like obama)

she then married money. (sort of like mccain)

she then earned a law degree and practiced as a tax attorney.

like mccain, she used her spouse's money to launch a political career.

she spent roughly twenty years in public service, at a national level in many roles, before becoming prime minister.

she was one of the few conservatives who supported decriminalizing homosexuality.

she was one of the few conservatives who supported women's reproductive choice.

she hired aetheists and gays to work for her.

thatcher was 53 years old with two decades of public service.

get real depalma.
 

Professor Balkin:

As to the ability of Palin to attract Indis, in an HCD Research poll of 1000 respondents taken after the Palin speech, Indi support for the McCain/Palin ticket spiked 9 points. As with most polls of registered voters, about 40% of these respondents are not going to vote, but this is a pretty good indication that Palin's appeal extends across the center-right.

McCain's speech may actually be a let down after last night.
 

Professor Balkin:

BTW, Palin, a VP candidate, nearly matched the viewership of the Obama presidential nomination acceptance speech. 38.3 million watched Obama, 37.2 million watched Palin.
 

BTW, Palin, a VP candidate, nearly matched the viewership of the Obama presidential nomination acceptance speech. 38.3 million watched Obama, 37.2 million watched Palin.

Imagine how high it would have been without a manufactured controversy as the opening act and with fewer empty seats.
 

eric said...

BTW, Palin, a VP candidate, nearly matched the viewership of the Obama presidential nomination acceptance speech. 38.3 million watched Obama, 37.2 million watched Palin.

Imagine how high it would have been without a manufactured controversy as the opening act and with fewer empty seats.


I agree. McCain/Palin owe a great deal to the Dems for their 96 hour slime attack for piquing the curiosity of American TV viewers. I mean really, who watches VP acceptance speeches?

What was interesting was the number of leftists who were watching last night and flooding Air America with their calls this morning as a drove back and forth to court.
 

Back to the law, I wonder how Mrs. Palin's refusal to testify is going to go over. Seems to be an Achilles Heel waiting to happen. My prediction is that she Cheney's up, negotiates for off-the-record type response right before the VP debate. McCain can't risk having Bush shoved up her butt so easily, so look for some movement on this before Biden takes the reins on it.
 

". . . 38.3 million watched Obama, 37.2 million watched Palin"

Does this make her a celebrity?
 

Flordian:

". . . 38.3 million watched Obama, 37.2 million watched Palin"

Does this make her a celebrity?


"Presumptuous." ;-)

Say, when do you think that the media will get around to pointing out that this tremendous, ground-breaking move by the Rethuglicans to nominate a woman for the Veep slot is in fact an old, "has-been" move; the Democrats ran a woman for Veep two dozen years back. The Rethuglicans are more than two decades behind the times!!! Then again, many of the air-head media mouths are probably unaware of this....

Cheers,
 

Um, I've seen some Ferraro comparisons, Arne. Personally, I thought the speech was awful, but the general consensus seems to be that Ferraro was a pretty underwhelming candidate compared to Palin - not in terms of experience, they're both equally unqualified, but as a campaigner. On paper, at least, her acceptance speech looks pretty boilerplate:

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/gferraroacceptanceaddress.html
 

Gov Palin as Baroness Thatcher ?

What utter Tosh ! As Garth pointed out, Baroness Thatcher was (i) an intellectual, (ii) had many years of public service before she reached high office, firstly as Minister for Education where one of her most remembered acts was to abolish free school milk for children earning her the early sobriquet "Thatcher - milk snatcher".

She grilled bureaucrats and ministers ruthlessly - they were all terrified of going to see "the Headmistress" in her study.

Like her soul mate Ronald Reagan she changed UK society for ever, I would say for the worse in that she increased social inequalities by the same "soak the poor" polices employed by Reagan.

As a consequence, the Conservative Party was wiped out in Scotland and and Wales and has been unelectable for the last 15 years.

The difference between Thatcher's Conservatives in the UK and the US Republicans in the USA is that while both parties advocated "soak the poor - greed is good" "small government" policies, in the UK religious beliefs simply do not form part of UK politics to any significant extent. We are a very, very secular society.

I can just imagine Thatcher's reaction to creationism in schools or restraint on embryo research - she'd have blown a gasket - she was a scientist after all. She regarded all bishops, priests, pastors etc as potential trouble because she felt they kept wittering on about things like poverty which she did not want to hear about.

David Cameron is doing a fair job of returning the Conservatives to "one nation" Toryism - and he might even win the next election.

Perhaps the Republican Party also needs some years in the wilderness to purge itself of the Neoconservatives and other "loathsome spotted reptiles" as well as of the malign influence of the religious nutcases (like Palin). A return to broad church "one-Nation" Republicanism is long overdue.

10 Years of Bush should have been enough. The UK welfare state does provide a cushion for poverty which the US general public does not have to anything like the same degree. Which is why it took both the Thatcher and the Major sequel for her policies to become as discredited as they eventually became.
 

Mourad:

My point was that Palin and Thatcher are both strong women who govern as the promised during the election, not that they promised their different electorates the same things.

BTW, Thatcher reforms and Blair's maintenance of those reforms are the reason the UK is the economic dynamo of Europe rather than the union paralyzed sick man it was in the 70s. There is a reason why the Old Europe portion of the EU call free markets as the Anglo American market.
 

I linked to your post in my "Civics Lesson for Sarah Palin" post at the CA NOW blog: http://www.canow.org/canoworg/2008/09/a-civics-lesson.html
 

Tray:

Um, I've seen some Ferraro comparisons, Arne. Personally, I thought the speech was awful,...

When I care about your opinyun, I'll let you know, m'kay. In the meanwhile, I wasn't talking about actual comparisons of the candidates vis a vis performance (although there's been a bit of "fact checking" of the speech that Palin had written for her, and it doesn't sound too good). I was commenting on the fact that this "maverick" behaviour is trailing the herd by over two decades. And more that one person (including Rethuglican flacks) have termed it pretty cynical. That is all.

This is "Clarence Thomas II: The Nightmare Continues"....

Cheers,
 

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"Bart" DePalma:

My point was that Palin and Thatcher are both strong women who govern as the promised during the election....

Oh. Did Thatcher lobby for and run on a platform for a "bridge to nowhere" before she claimed to have turned it down?

And I have reports from elsewhere that despite Palin's fondness for teaching "creationism", she hasn't done much about getting that rammed through since assuming the governor's seat (albeit that may have ben on the advice of more sane legislators that said it couldn't be done, and actual lawyers that have warned her not to waste taxpayers' money).

Cheers,
 

I was commenting on the fact that this "maverick" behaviour is trailing the herd by over two decades.

I don't think anyone's giving McCain tons of credit for his mavericky choice. I think everyone recognizes that McCain felt he had to pull a high-risk, high-reward play to win the race. Same's true of Mondale. I don't think either deserves much credit as a feminist or maverick or what have you.
 

Arne, I'd ask someone to read you a bit more about the "creationist" controversy, but I'm afraid it would ruin your day. Better to live the exciting life you lead in your fevered little brain than actually confront facts. It'd be almost as cruel as someone adjusting your dosage.
 

Controversy? What controversy?

You mean like the witchcraft controversy?
 

Tray:

Arne, I'd ask someone to read you a bit more about the "creationist" controversy, but I'm afraid it would ruin your day....

Do tell. I'm all ears. Tell you what: I'll post a new article on Palin's fondness for "creationism" over on my blog tomorrow, and you can go comment to your heart's content there.

But I'm quite familiar with Kitzmiller, Epperson, Aguillard, etc., and with the arguments (and 'arguments') a long time running.

... Better to live the exciting life you lead in your fevered little brain than actually confront facts....

Pot. China cup. Black.

... It'd be almost as cruel as someone adjusting your dosage.

ROFLMAO....

Look, I've even tangled with Philip Johnson in the hallways of Boalt on some of his nonsense. I think you misunderestimate me. But that's better handled over on my blog, unless the rest of the folks here are up for some entertainment.....

Cheers,
 

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Arne, sorry to disappoint, but the fact is, Palin didn't support adding creationism to the curriculum in public schools.
 

Tray:

As promised, new post is up. Have at it, and feel free to leave your thoughts as to why I'm a fool to think "creationism" is a crock. And I'll feel free in turn to eviscerate any such nonsense (if you think I'm not being "welcoming" enough and perhaps discouraging you, no problemo; we have plenty of stuff -- better than you could ever come up with -- that gets equally eviscerated over at The Panda's Thumb, so, no, we won't be lacking for material of that type....)

Cheers,
 

Thomas:

Arne, sorry to disappoint, but the fact is, Palin didn't support adding creationism to the curriculum in public schools.

From here:

The volatile issue of teaching creation science in public schools popped up in the Alaska governor's race this week when Republican Sarah Palin said she thinks creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the state's public classrooms.

Palin was answering a question from the moderator near the conclusion of Wednesday night's televised debate on KAKM Channel 7 when she said, "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."


You want to discuss it further, you can comment here.

Cheers,
 

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Just a footnote on the ludicrous attempt to equate Sarah Palin with Margaret Thatcher.

Paul Waugh has a political blog in the London Evening Standard newspaper - no friend of the left. Here is the link to his post Sarah Palin ain't no Margaret Thatcher

As he says - "Whenever you hear anyone describing her [Palin] as "Alaska's Thatcher", just give 'em a reality check."

I would add that Thatcher was the epitome of "London and home counties" living. She hated going to the wilderness of the Celtic fringes (Scotland - Wales etc) but her husband would as an oilman have probably been pro Alaska pipeline especially if BP had an interest or there was some possibility of sending her feckless son Mark there.
 

I thought the most cogent and delightfully pungent summary of Palin and McCain's choice of her was done by conservative pundits when they thought the microphone was off.

I can't disagree with any of their comments. In fact, it's delightfully refreshing to hear them. Too bad they don't speak the same truth when the microphone is on and they're paid to puff their party.

It is too bad Lieberman wasn't far enough right for the right wing that has taken over the Republic Party. But that's McCain's problem. Now he has a bigger problem: his own folks think he's blown it. And are not hesitant to say so (just not when they pretend they're informing America).
 

I thought the most cogent and delightfully pungent summary of Palin and McCain's choice of her was done by conservative pundits when they thought the microphone was off.

I can't disagree with any of their comments. In fact, it's delightfully refreshing to hear them. Too bad they don't speak the same truth when the microphone is on and they're paid to puff their party.

It is too bad Lieberman wasn't far enough right for the right wing that has taken over the Republic Party. But that's McCain's problem. Now he has a bigger problem: his own folks think he's blown it. And are not hesitant to say so (just not when they pretend they're informing America).
 

Oooops.

My 10:28PM and 12:06AM posts above should have been addressed to Thomas, not Tray. My apologies, Tray.

Cheers,
 

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