If I had to pick one word to summarize my impression of Gov. Palin’s speech tonight, it would be “shrill.” It was a fiercely partisan speech, a mocking speech, a culture-war speech. It was ably written and ably delivered, but it came with a sneer. While it may be the kind of speech that plays well in the convention hall, I have my doubts about its ability to persuade the shrinking number of undecideds remaining to vote for a McCain-Palin ticket. We’ll see.
What may be most significant about the speech, however, could be what it portends for the fall campaign. Palin’s goal, it seems to me, was pretty simple: make common folk dislike the Democrats again. It was a speech very loosely grounded in fact but deeply rooted in division. She threw around the old canards (and some new ones, too) with aplomb. I think this is a sign that we may be in for a bitterly negative campaign.
On that level, I’d have to pronounce the speech a success. Palin proved herself to be at least a decent attack dog. One needn’t have any foreign policy experience to fill that role and fill it well. She came out swinging and never let up.
Democrats who’ve scoffed at her will have to think again. Obama’s weakness since the beginning has been his inability or unwillingness to throw an effective counterpunch. Unless his campaign quickly figures out a way to do that against a self-professed Hockey Mom, I think we just might have been looking tonight at the next Vice President of the United States.
UPDATE: A conventional wisdom seems to be emerging that this was a speech designed to energize the GOP base. I disagree. By and large, I think the base is energized by Sarah Palin already. To me, this was a speech designed to drive up Obama’s negatives with swing voters. The only question is whether she succeeded and will succeed despite the ugly sneer that accompanied her negative broadsides.
Cross-posted from Facebook