Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin Scores Well in Debate; Conservative Elitists React

I didn't see the debate (I haven't watched a presidential or vice-presidential debate since Pres. Reagan's disastrous perfomance against Walter Mondale in the first 1984 debate), so I can't speak to Gov. Palin's performance. But I have been impressed by the clips I've seen on the news. And, since I expect the reaction of the MSM and the left to be typical to what it would be regardless of her performance, I've been mostly paying attention to the reactions of those conservative handwringers who had begun to second-guess the choice of Gov. Palin as Sen. McCain's running mate.

You know, I think I despise conservative elitists even more than I despise the elitists on the left. Mostly because the effete elitists among economic conservatives ought to know better, but they've never gotten over the fact that social conservatives have become the base of the conservative movement in America. They just don't like us flyover-country conservatives very much.

Matthew Archbold offers a case-in-point:

Republican columnist Kathleen Parker infamously called on Palin to step down earlier in the week because of two poor interviews. Tonight, while admitting Palin won, Parker's not being too gracious about it. Here's what she wrote:

Well, darnit all, if that dadgum girl (wink, wink) didn't beat the tarnation out of Joe Biden. Maverick Sarah Palin fersure surpassed expectations and said everything under the sun, also. And Biden smiled and smiled. You see, that's the key to it all.
Parker is a D.C. person. She doesn't get and obviously doesn't like people who don't speak like her. You see, "dadgum" is supposed to make you laugh because people who aren't from the coasts are to be snickered at, not respected.

This reminds me, once again, that there are two Republican parties. The elites look down on the base. In fact, the base is looked down on by the left and the elite Republicans. I am pro-life. That is reason number one I'm a Republican. Laugh at me all you want. I'm still going to be pro-life.
Yeah, what Matthew said.

And dear old Margaret "I'm not at all bitter" Noonan, despite believing that Gov. Palin "killed" with her performance and was "the star" of last night's debate, is quite predictably unenthused with Gov. Palin's populist persona.

And don't even get me started on the disdainful "Whole Foods" elitism of certain whiny, self-absorbed boutique-brand conservatives who can't seem to get past the fact that Gov. Palin's "grating nasal voice" sounds more like people out here in Midwest flyover country (yes, yes, just like Sheriff Marge Gunderson in "Fargo") than it does to the posh lockjawed, clinch-teethed dialect of the eastern elites in D.C. and New York City.

I happen to think Gov. Palin's populism is one of her strongest selling points. And I believe that if conservatives are to be electorally successful in the future, they must come up with a mix that combines social conservatism with economic and governmental "reform" populism. Hopefully, that's where the next generation of Republican leaders - Govs. Palin, Huckabee, and Jindal - will take us.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Let's Get One Thing Straight ...

Hey, Elitists! Y'all Got Y'all's Asses Kicked Tonight! [UPDATED]

Wall Street Journal on Why the Media Bashes Gov. Palin: "The Beltway Boys" [UPDATED]

Reactions to Palin Pick an Eye-Opener

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At 10/03/2008 10:41 AM, Anonymous Stephen B said...

For what its worth, I was unimpressed because there frankly wasn't a lot of meat to what she was saying. I had the debate on the radio as I drove home from law school, and there didn't appear to be any overarching theme behind what she was saying. Where Biden had a clear message (GWB=bad, JM=GWB, JM=bad) Palin was a string of soundbites. It struck me that this is a conservatism driven by Sean, Rush, and Ann rather than Bill, Milton, and Russell.

For what its worth though, Biden's clarity only served to make me more p---ed off at him.

At 10/03/2008 10:50 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

You know, I've read similar sentiments expressed by others who heard the debate on the radio and were unimpressed.

But many of those who saw it on TV seem to think that Palin excelled.

It could be one of those Nixon-Kennedy things (those who heard the debate over the radio thought Nixon won; those who saw it on TV thought Kennedy won).

At 10/03/2008 11:07 AM, Blogger Darwin said...

Sheesh, I can't even get through Dreher's posts on Palin. But then, nearly everything he says annoys me since he went "crunchy" and anti-Catholic. I only keep him on my bloglines because sometimes he links to interesting things.

On the elitism thing -- I can sympathize with some of the elitists feelings (though not about Sarah Palin) but the thing that I think that elitist conservatives often forget is that the educational and cultural and social institutions which they are attached to, which they consider elite (like top colleges and coastal cities and live theater and high brow books and magazines and such) have become not only morally but culturally corrupt. Going to an elite university these days will often impede your ability to actually develop an understanding and love for Western Culture and all that has made it worthy.

In this sense, it's only through a certain kind of populism that conservatism and Western culture and values can survive and be passed on.

At 10/03/2008 11:26 AM, Blogger Kyle R. Cupp said...

I found it rather dull, but that hasn’t stopped me from posting on it. ;-) Palin showed that she could blatantly avoid answering questions with style and confidence. Both candidates took questions as an opportunity to talk about whatever memorized lines and slogans (white flag of surrender!) remained in their to-say lists. Ifill let them do this without challenge or follow-ups. We never heard from Palin what her Achilles-heel was. Biden wasn’t pressed by the moderator to explain his spin on his Iraq War vote. They both agree on gay rights?

At 10/03/2008 11:33 AM, Anonymous crankycon said...

Totally agree with you (though I don't particularly care for Huckabee). It's like Krauthammer and company had to grit their teeth in order to compliment her tonight.

And for the record, I will officially be living outside the Beltway by a whole mile and a half as of November 1. I keep inching my way out.

At 10/03/2008 11:49 AM, Anonymous A Mom for McCain said...

I thought Sarah did a fine job. Her style is so different than Biden's that it is actually difficult to make an even comparison. Biden is definitely more seasoned--duh--he's been in Washington for 30 some years...And he definitely has the smooth politial talk down and can spout off 'facts', (although a number of commentators last night indicated that he spouted off several NON-facts ie: untruths, could say "misrepresentsations"/lies.)

Sarah came off as a fresh breath of normal-American air speaking normal American talk. She called out Biden on several things. "Now come on, Joe...." then corrected him.

Substantively she might be able to use a little more prep, but hey, as she mentioned last night she's only been doing this FIVE weeks, (to her opponent's 30 years) and she has those qualities that cannot be learned or taught--truth, integrity and wisdom--on her side.

And let's not forget how she's been framed the last few weeks, edited to the point of sounding stupid, attacked by the main stream media and fed to the wolves. She emerged with grace and poise and knowledge last night.

I think Palin came out ahead because she had so much against her when she started. God bless,

At 10/03/2008 12:40 PM, Blogger Adrienne said...

If she didn't appear to come off well in the Katie Couric interviews it was due to the silly questions that were being asked.

What magazines do you read? Can you imagine Ms. Couric asking Obama that question?

IMHO Joe Biden waaaaay underestimated his rival. As I said somewhere else: "I thought she was a cute as a bugs ears" and my husband said, "she looks like someone who could stick an icepick in you and never lose the smile on her face."

Both are good things ;-)

At 10/03/2008 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy your blog very much!

My husband and I had a chuckle over Joe Biden mistakenly referring to Bosnians as "Bosniacs"! I thought I hadn't heard him correctly, but we had the closed captioning on and that is what it read.

Susan from Akron

At 10/03/2008 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, If Mr. Biden was speaking in a Slavic accent. He is probably correct on that point. However, Mr. Biden is still a loser and Mrs. Palin beat him big time.


At 10/03/2008 1:19 PM, Blogger Kyle R. Cupp said...

If she didn't appear to come off well in the Katie Couric interviews it was due to the silly questions that were being asked.

What magazines do you read? Can you imagine Ms. Couric asking Obama that question?

I wouldn’t call asking about what newspapers and magazines inspired Palin’s worldview silly. It’s an interesting question aimed at finding out how Palin thinks and how her political philosophy has been shaped.

At 10/03/2008 1:25 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

The question was a set-up for additional "gotcha" questions. I wouldn't have answered the question either. Or, if I had, I would have answered that I get my news from a wide variety of online sources, without being specific as to which ones.

At 10/03/2008 2:28 PM, Anonymous Victor said...

But Palin didn't refuse to answer, she just talked around the subject without giving a straight answer.

At 10/03/2008 2:35 PM, Anonymous Victor said...

Or to put it another way ... there is no doubt Couric was aiming for a "gotcha." And her followups were laced with barely-concealed "this chick is putting me on" contempt.

There are inappropriate questions that one should refuse to answer on principle (like, "Sarah, is Trig really your grandson?"). But if one considers "where do you get your names from either an inappropriate question or an occasion to avoid being "gotcha-ed" ... man o man.

Obligatory disclaimer: This is not intended to constitute in any way, shape or form anything less that utter contempt and fervent opposition to McCain/Palin's baby-killing, gay-marrying, pro-surrender, pro-terrorism, race-baiting, insane-preacher, corrupt and demagogic opponents.

Articulateness is still a good thing though, and I don't think it does good to pretend she has it.

At 10/03/2008 2:37 PM, Anonymous Victor said...

"where do you get your names from

should obviously read

"where do you get your news from?"

Inarticulateness is for LOSERS!!!

At 10/03/2008 2:44 PM, Anonymous crankycon said...

Articulateness is still a good thing though, and I don't think it does good to pretend she has it.

Why is it a pretense to argue that she is articulate? She has spoken publicly on multiple occasions, has generally proven to be a very good speaker, and she has displayed a firm grasp on many issues. That she tends to degenerate into platitudes on issues that she either doesn't know as well, or where she's attempting to stick to the McCain team script, is not a sign of inarticulateness.

I'm sorry, but this beginning to get out of hand. She gave a couple of admittedly silly answers in an interview, and danced around a few issues at a debate, and suddenly she's the second coming of Dan Quayle (who, by the way, also got a bum rap). I'm tired of ceding this issue to people who think that Palin's a stuttering, bumbling fool. Meanwhile, we have a guy at the top of the ticket that has no pulse, but I guess he's the articulate one because he can cram the word maverick down our throats ten times per minute instead of five. And her opponent in the debate "articulately" lied every time he opened his lips.

Inarticulate my ass.

At 10/03/2008 3:18 PM, Anonymous Victor said...

Why is it a pretense to argue that she is articulate?

Because she is capable of stuff like this:

"Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education and I'm glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and God bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving. Teachers needed to be paid more. I come from a house full of school teachers. My grandma was, my dad who is in the audience today, he's a schoolteacher, had been for many years. My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here's a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate.

"Education credit in American has been in some sense in some of our states just accepted to be a little bit lax and we have got to increase the standards. No Child Left Behind was implemented. It's not doing the job though. We need flexibility in No Child Left Behind. We need to put more of an emphasis on the profession of teaching. We need to make sure that education in either one of our agendas, I think, absolute top of the line. My kids as public school participants right now, it's near and dear to my heart. I'm very, very concerned about where we're going with education and we have got to ramp it up and put more attention in that arena."

Can you honestly read that without involuntary digestive muscle spasms? There are exactly two thoughts in there -- we need more school funding and more state flexibility implementing No Child Left Behind. The rest is effusion that takes up space.

I'm well aware of the difference between writing and speaking and know that nobody's extemporizing will read like Flaubert. But honestly, I was appalled even listening last night.

And no, this has nothing to do with some Beltway thing -- the worst recent politician for this sort of rambling incohesiveness was George H.W. Bush (a consummate insider).

As for the top of the ticker, McCain's performance at Saddleback was masterful and it didn't involve repeating the word "Maverick." For the record, I thought Obama did well on the style but was evasive on the substance there. And neither one did well at all last week. I expect McCain to kick town-hall ass.

And her opponent in the debate "articulately" lied every time he opened his lips.

That is true enough. What makes you think I would deny that? Remember your interlocutor, bud.

At 10/03/2008 3:35 PM, Anonymous crankycon said...

That is true enough. What makes you think I would deny that? Remember your interlocutor, bud.

I'm merely pointing out that there are more important things than stringing words together artfully.

It's interesting that you mention GHW Bush. Like Palin, sometimes his words came out a little mangled at times. Was he inarticulate because he had a somewhat mangled syntax? I would say not.

We can dance around in circles all day on this, so I'll let it go. I just think people are holding Palin to a ridiculous standard.

At 10/03/2008 4:27 PM, Blogger Darwin said...


I wouldn’t call asking about what newspapers and magazines inspired Palin’s worldview silly. It’s an interesting question aimed at finding out how Palin thinks and how her political philosophy has been shaped.

Is it really?

I mean, if you asked someone that, maybe it would be. But if Palin had given Couric a standard answer like, "Well, I read a variety of sources. My staff helps put together a collection of clippings they think are relevent to our work, and I also read headline news from the Junaeu and Ancorage papers. On national news: I read some articles and opinon pieces from the Wall Street Journal and NY Times, and sometimes I'll read in-depth articles in The Atlantic or The New Yorker."

Would that tell you anything about what had formed that person's philosophy or worldview? Minus the Alaska references, that reading list could have come from me or from Barack Obama -- and we're rather different people.

At 10/03/2008 5:38 PM, Blogger Kyle R. Cupp said...


Couric prefaced the question by stating an interest in knowing how Palin's worldview was established prior to her selection as a VP candidate, so that's how I understood the question's aim.

As you say, what sense of Palin's worldview we'd get would depend upon her answer, but Couric was pretty specific that what she was looking for was what magazines and newspapers Palin read regularly that helped shaped her worldview.

At 10/03/2008 5:53 PM, Blogger Anita Moore said...

Sarah kicked butt. Period. End of story.

(Plus, Joe Biden looked like he had more makeup on than she did.)

At 10/03/2008 6:22 PM, Anonymous Victor said...

... and worse plastic surgery.

Those teeth made him look like one of the Osmonds.

At 10/03/2008 8:01 PM, Blogger Donald R. McClarey said...

A photo of Biden after his encounter with the Palin steamroller.

People who underestimate this woman are making a very, very big mistake.

At 10/03/2008 9:37 PM, Blogger Darwin said...


Yeah, see, I guess I just find it hard to believe that Couric was asking the question out of anything like genuine intellectual curiosity. I mean, from this woman's book, he's mainly interested in herself -- and to a lesser extent the causes she espouses. (Of course, maybe that's why she gets her worldview from magazines and newspapers.)

Personally, I would have given the most generic answer possible, maybe throwing in a few items like National Review and First Things just for fun.

But I can't really blame Palin for assuming that Couric was trying to stage a rerun of Bush's "Who's your favorite political philosopher moment" and refusing to play ball.

She may also have assumed that if she named any of the major papers she'd immediately get a, "What did you think about the piece by so-and-so about such-and-such?" question which, if answered with, "I don't read every article" would have ended up with a, "She claimed she reads the NY Times but she's lying" narrative.

At 10/04/2008 8:53 AM, Blogger Kyle R. Cupp said...

Ah. I know next to nothing about Couric herself. I don't watch television. There may be a history of questioning with which I'm not familiar that would give one cause to interpret Couric's questions as "gotcha" questions. I took her questions at face value. Couric herself may not have really cared to know how Palin's worldview was formed, but I do, and so the question interested me.

Now I will say that much of the reaction to Palin's answer to this question - the idea that Palin doesn't know any newspapers or magazines - is very silly.


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