Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin and setting the bar too low

Palin and setting the bar too low

Last night the punditocracy was calling tonight's speech a make or break for Sarah Palin. She'll pass the test, but it's the wrong test.

They've set the bar low on exactly the item where the bar should be high: a speech. There's absolutely no question that Palin will come off, at first impression, as articulate and intelligent and impressive. (And, as Joe Biden might note, clean, unless she's been field dressing a moose beforehand.) She'll get rave reviews, I can hear them now: "A home run, Palin hit it out of the park."

Of course she will. That's the one thing we know she can do.

But that first impression is exactly the wrong test. The Palin problem isn't in the meeting, it's in the getting to know.

And she'll certainly be able to memorize the talking points in time for the Oct. 2 debate with Biden, where the bar is set so low that they'll try to call it a tie if manages to avoid the Dan Quayle moment.

(That's my two word answer to the question "do running mates matter?" Remember, Lloyd Bentsen was on the losing side of that election.)

No, the real test won't be a set speech or a structured debate -- it'll be the first press conference, when she gets to extemporaneously, at length, with followups, explain her views on Alaska neo-nationalism and why she tried to get the Wasilla librarian fired, along with many other issues relevant and irrelevant. (Leeeave... Bristolll... Aloooooone!)

My guess is she'll do exactly ONE of those, then get shipped off to the small markets in the GOP base states. Which is what she's there for.

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