Novice extemp: a speech contest event in which ninth- and tenth-graders in often askew neckties have thirty minutes to prepare 4–6-minute speeches in response to randomly drawn domestic and foreign policy questions.
Why was Sarah Palin's performance so painful to watch? Palin repeats the same line, almost word for word, about Rick Davis "recusing himself from the dealings." Palin says things that don't make sense, like "
It's not even funny anymore. It's not accurate to refer to the "McCain-Palin" ticket; it's nothing but McCain. Sarah Palin brings nothing substantive to the McCain campaign. She offers no clear policy vision. Even after four weeks, she can't elaborate on a single answer beyond her assigned and drilled talking points. Her understanding of world affairs sounds no deeper than a summary of the conservative talk radio commentary she perhaps hears on the radio in her motorcade on the way through Manhattan to the studio. She doesn't even understand her running mate's legislative history. She brings nothing but looks and fundagelicals to the McCain campaign.
Is that sexist? Anti-religionist? Just partisan? Believe what you want. But this isn't a beauty pageant (that was the '80s, Sarah): you're applying to be second-in-command of the free world. I expect a vice-president to be able to offer intelligent, direct answers with occasional factual support and policy detail. Evasive, uninformed answers like what Palin gave Couric wouldn't get her hired at McDonalds.
I seem to recall Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau regularly drawing George H.W. Bush as nothing, a blank spot in the cartoon panel with word bubbles popping out of thin air.
Word bubbles out of thin air—I can offer no more apt description of all Sarah Palin brings to the McCain campaign.
Update 11:07 CDT: But let's balance the partisan hackery of the Madville Times with a more sensible voice from the right, reporter Philip Klein of the conservative magazine American Spectator:
On second thought, maybe it's a good thing that the McCain campaign is shielding Palin from the media. Her interview with Katie Couric was absolutely painful to watch. She clearly stumbled twice -- when asked how McCain has fought to reform Wall Street and about Rick Davis's ties to Freddie Mac. Her answer that not supporting a bailout could mean a Great Depression was off message and irresponsible. For the rest of the interview, it was just lots of tired cliches, and random jargon that made it seem as if she was reading off of mental index cards. I know a lot of conservatives like Sarah Palin and always rush to her defense. But it's absolutely not meant as an insult to say that she simply is not ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency [emphasis mine; Philip Klein, "Palin's Silence," American Spectator blog, 2008.09.25].
Count on the Madville Times for more of the best of the conservative media....
1. Update 2008.09.26 07:17: As some readers point out, Palin sounds like she says "ill," not "all." Whenever possible, I take quotes from written transcripts rather than audio/video. CBS's own transcript continues to list the word as all. I guess I should watch more TV....