Sunday, October 5, 2008

Only a Heart Beat Away

Remember, Sarah Palin will be only a heart beat away from being the president. Is she ready? These ladies don't think so:
  • Washington Post, Sarah Palin's Bridge to Somewhere by Kathleen Parker (She was often too cute by half -- winking and gosh-darning her way through the debate -- but she did what she needed to do. . . Over and over, Palin skipped past Ifill, as well as Biden, to speak directly to the American people. I am one of you, she told them. And these people -- Democrats and the media -- are neither of us, nor for us. And she said it in the nicest, gosh-darn way, bless her little heart. The GOP loved it, but did anyone else? Did Palin change hearts and minds? Probably not. . . With the very first question about the bailout bill -- was this the worst of Washington or the best of Washington? -- Palin went straight to her hockey mom narrative, though she switched to the more mainstream soccer field. "As we try to figure out has this been a good time or a bad time in America's economy, is go to a kid's soccer game on Saturday, and turn to any parent there on the sideline and ask them, 'How are you feeling about the economy?' And I'll betcha you're going to hear some fear in that parent's voice." . . Palin's strategy throughout the evening was to avoid questions to which she didn't have answers and rely on the American people to like her so much they didn't care. "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also," she said when asked to respond to a Biden comment about deregulation. . . Before we relax into giddiness or cynicism, however, it's important to consider that a debate differs from an interview in significant ways. A debate is a point-counterpoint exercise that allows little opportunity for probing or follow-up. An interview requires that a candidate explain an idea in depth and offer specifics. The Katie Couric interview that was such a disaster for Palin -- and that prompted me to conclude that she was out of her league and should leave the ticket -- was awful precisely because Palin couldn't explain anything. For whatever reason, she couldn't even speak coherently. The debate format clearly worked better for her because she could control her message and keep pounding well-rehearsed talking points. Does that mean she's ready to lead the free world should circumstances warrant? That question remains.)
  • New York Times, Talking in Points by Gail Collins (Palin did indeed answer each question with poise and self-confidence, reeling off a bunch of talking points that were sometimes totally unrelated to the matter at hand. When she was asked to respond to Joe Biden’s critique of the McCain health care plan, she announced: “I would like to respond about the tax increases,” cheerfully ignoring the fact that tax increases had never been mentioned. After the recent Katie Couric unpleasantness, Palin told the viewers that this time they were getting a chance to hear her “answer these tough questions without the filter.” And, indeed, her answers were murky in the extreme. She railed repeatedly about government regulations getting in the way of the private sector, then announced that the financial rescue plan “has got to include that massive oversight that Americans are expecting and deserving.” She said that she didn’t want to discuss what caused global warming, only how to ease its impact. . . When the moderator, Gwen Ifill, asked under what circumstances the candidates would consider bringing America’s nuclear weapons into play, Palin said: “Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.” . . Since [her nomination], she has spent most of her time going from one Republican rally to the next, repeating chunks of her convention speech, which have grown more disjointed with every stop. (In an airplane hangar in Ohio recently, she told the people of Youngstown she was happy to be there because Alaska has, per capita, the nation’s most “small planes and small pilots.”) For reporters hoping to question her, she has been determinedly unfindable, a Judge Crater from Juneau. And after the Couric debacle, you can bet your boots that the campaign is going to take Palin’s debate performance, declare victory and wrap her up until after the election. . . The people boosting Palin’s triumph were not celebrating because she demonstrated that she is qualified to be president if something ever happened to John McCain. They were cheering her success in covering up her lack of knowledge about the things she would have to deal with if she wound up running the country. )

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