Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin the Shrewd

Tim Cavanaugh's take Palin's speech:
In Palin's delivery, the ancient battle cry of the American working class—"You think you're better than me?"—was emptied of its narcissism and butch bluntness, reconfigured with qualities we don't ordinarily associate with salt of the earth Americans: dry wit, newsy allusiveness, a confidence that the people you're addressing don't need to have the jokes explained to them. It wasn't surprising that the hockey mom pounded Barack Obama bloody with sallies against his alleged elitism (though whoever put out the pre-speech disinformation that Palin would not be used as an "attack dog" deserves an award at this year's Rovies). It was surprising that she did so while maintaining such a sunny, gracious, genteel demeanor. Through 3,000 words of political aikido, Palin seemed to be doing something the left and right agree working people should never be allowed to do. She seemed to be enjoying herself.

The aw-shucks quality and class warfare elements here are familiar. The indirection, sarcasm, and unembarrassed intelligence are new. It's a measure of how surprising Palin's style was that so many of her detractors could respond only with rage, incomprehension, and irrelevant comprehension. In particular, Palin's Democratic counterpart Joseph Biden's predictable-as-Pickett's-Charge objection that the speech lacked substance sets up a very plausible scenario for the vice presidential debate: I'm willing to predict that the hyper-informed Biden will demonstrate his mastery of the facts, leave no doubt about his flair for complex policy questions, get his ass handed to him in the debate, and never understand what went wrong.
Whole thing here.