Sarah proved herself last night but did she improve the chances of the Republican ticket to win beyond reinvigorating the Base? The social conservative base is now shored up and will now show up to vote for Sarah. They will hold their nose over McCain if the Republicans win, Sarah will be the most powerful Vice President in the history of the United States.
The crowd was smaller at the Convention last night to listen to Sarah and the parade of the Republican also-rans. Will they show up tonight for McCain? Pretty certain he will have a larger audience, but he will not draw a crowd of 84,000 like Obama did last week - unless perhaps, they let the protesters in the hall.
The Republicans after Republican speaker last night showed a remarkable ability to make a virtue out of necessity. They retreated to their default positions of government is bad, taxes are bad, media is bad, science is bad, fear is good and without fear you can’t have nor enjoy freedom. Anyone can succeed if they work hard and follow Republican values. Anyone who disagrees with them is an enemy and freedom is all about a fight. Fighting is required to deal with those who are different from us and they must be attacked for being different.
With fear as their main motivation the Republicans returned to their roots last night and put away any more talk of the all too liberal McCain as a maverick. McCain was brought to heel last night and he will be trained to rollover next.
That said, Palin was personally impressive last night. She proved herself as a formidable and an effective speaker. She was consistent with her billing as a feisty hockey mom of considerable conviction over guns, abortion, taxes, sex education, fighting your enemy and a fundamentalist belief in God and country. She revels in being in the outsider role and is an adamant anti-elitist and anti-intellectual…she feeds on the raw meat of the basic Republican Party rhetoric.
Her defense of her political and governing experience was laudable and credible. Her skewering of the traditional enemies of down-home Republican ideology was masterful. She did an excellent job in achieving her goals. She was under considerable pressure and had lots of presumptions and prejudices to overcome. I don’t think this was a triumph based on any lowered expectations about her. I think she was masterful in how she rose above cackling of the critics and the quipsters, including me.
After listening carefully last night, my overall impression is that Sarah Palin is a Donald Rumsfeld clone. Like Rummy she will often be wrong but never in doubt. If the Republicans win she will be a dangerous force in her decisions and dealings with a diverse and difficult world she will refuse to try and understand. For example, in her speech last night she said she felt no need to consider dealing with the enemies of America by “reading them their rights.” That was chilling. So much for the Republican view of the laudable American principle of “Freedom and Justice for All” contained in the American Pledge of Allegiance. That Pledge was eloquently and ironically spoken and sung after her speech last night!
Republicans last night showed their true colours, and there are only have two of them… black or white. In the heart and soul of the Republican base you are either for us or against us. As for nuance and respect for differences and efforts at understanding and inclusion, well that is for sissies!
Now the race for President, the prize being the most important and powerful office in the world, should shift and be about platforms, character, personal capacities and the skills of the candidates. The battle for power must now be on the really serious issues. The campaign must now be more about helping the American voter better understanding the differences and preferences between the world view of the Republican and Democrat options. The media has a serious role to play in making this campaign shift to substance over abuse.
The choices being offered are well defined and starkly different. Are Americans going to be motivated by fear or hope? Are they going to adapt to the needs of tomorrow or try to perfect yesterday? Do they want to lead the need to change or choose to deny the need to change? Do they want to be measured by the power of their example or the example of their power? Are they going to be engaged in the world as a beacon of hope or retreat to fortress USA?
Some fundamental religious terrorists “took Manhattan.” Will Americans now build more walls on their borders and in their hearts? Will they become Berlin? An anxious world wants to know and needs to know.