Wednesday, September 03, 2008

thoughts on the night

I'll be quick:

Romney was awesome! The PBS commentators were saying that he was so far right tonight that he couldn't see the middle--but that's not what I remember. What I remember was that he set up a nice theme for the night: attack Obama. I was glad it was done at some point in time, and I felt tonight was the night that it had to happen if it was to happen at all. And Romney was good tonight, very very good.

I skipped a few speakers and came in for the last part of Rudy Giuliani. He also was very very good--I was almost falling down laughing after a couple of his lines. His delivery is pitch-perfect for these types of things.

Of course, those were undercards--and let me tell you, it takes a lot to put Giuliani in the undercard. Tonight's show was all about Palin.

And she did. . .pretty darn good.

You know, I debated what I wanted to see tonight. In the end, it came down to this: show us that you're comfortable on this stage, show us that you know you're not an identity politics ploy, and show us something that we haven't seen yet.

SO, on this scorecard:

Comfort on stage: check. Maybe even check-plus.

Anti-Identity politics: check. THANK THE HEAVENS! I guess we'll call that a lesson learned the hard way.

Something we haven't seen yet: check, when she talked about her executive experience. She's the only one on either ticket who brings that to the table, and she celebrated it tonight. And I like where she set her sights with this: she wasn't about attacking her cohort on the bottom of the ticket. She set her sights on Obama, showing some moxie. It was a nice continuation on the theme of the night, and I liked how she made her shots: quick barbs, almost throw-away lines said with a picture-perfect s(!t-eating grin on her face.

So, bare minimums met, how was the rest of it? Well, the speech was. . .okay. I didn't like the flow of the thing--I thought it ended a little flat. On substance, it was fine. I didn't need laundry-lists, but I did need at least some policy stuff. She was a little light on the latter, mostly only providing specifics when talking about what she's done in Alaska. She'll have to be better than that on the "circuit"--but tonight wasn't about that.

In all, I say that was a solid performance. The crowd, by the way, absolutely loved her. How many lib press-type folks were shocked that she wasn't booed off the stage? Time for another story, guys and gals: Palin's not going anywhere.

What about post-speech reaction? Well, the round table at Fox loved it--even Mort Kondracke. Two bits of cold water: Nina Easton said--correctly, I believe--that it was a home run, but it's still the first inning. And Krauthammer said that her performance didn't alleviate any of his concerns about what her presence on the ticket does to McCain's experience narrative--which is also true, but I'm not hung up on it as much as he is.

Howard Wolfson said something that I thought was very point-on. He called the "stagecraft" tonight impressive. What stagecraft? Palin appeared by herself on the stage; the camera sometimes flashed to her family; and then when she was done, her family joined her on stage. That's not stagecraft--that AUTHENTIC! Obama's speech was at least partially about stagecraft--and it was as artificial as money could buy. Check that, make that "as artificial as A LOT of money could buy." Palin's appearance wasn't about stagecraft--but because of the authenticity of Palin, an impressive and inspiring scene kinda came through. That's the kind of thing that relates to the midwest--not the columns of Zeus.

And in case you missed it, Palin took a really good shot at those columns. The crowd ate it up!

Yeah, she was pretty sharp.


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