September 04, 2008
The McCain campaign faced an interesting choice last night: They could go for gravitas, weaving in wonky specifics to offset Palin's resume, or double-down on her small-town charm. They went with the latter, which played well on television, but I'm not sure it ultimately advanced Palin's cause. I could see people thinking this was a person they liked but wouldn't want anywhere near the White House. For that matter, I'm not sure the letters "PTA" should ever appear in a vice-presidential speech--at least not the biographical portion.
While Republicans may have consolidated their base and staunched the bleeding over Sarah Palin's pick, their most important task still remains: John McCain needs to go into a room of ten thousand screaming Republicans and distance himself from George W. Bush. The Obama campaign has honed its line of attack against John McCain--he has voted with George Bush 90% of the time and his election would represent a third Bush term. To its credit Team Obama repeats this like a mantra. If this criticism sticks it will be devastating to McCain.
A Little Water On The Palinmania
Hyperbole alert--tonight, Politico gushes, "all doubts were doused" after Palin's speech: "Palin’s speech so delighted some Republicans that they suggested it may instantly elevate her to GOP rock-star status and diminish presidential contenders who ran this year who may hope to seek the White House again. 'Who's most bummed?' asked one veteran Republican consultant. 'Obama? Biden? Mitt? Huck?
Palin Missed Her Chance
All right: Sarah Palin’s speech was well-delivered, charming, an opening-night hit. The anchors and pundits now analyzing it on CNN are falling all over themselves: “I think Republicans have to be thrilled with what happened here tonight—the most macho speech of the night was delivered by a woman,” Republican consultant Alex Castellanos marveled. But this all had been a foregone conclusion. People have questioned her experience and her background; nobody really questioned whether she could give a good speech, especially after her successful rollout address last Friday.
September 03, 2008
A Defense of Lieberman
We asked John Avlon, author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and Director of Speechwriting and Deputy Policy Director for Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign, to give us an insider’s perspective from the Republican convention: The crowd in the convention center loved Fred Thompson's speech--the drawling delivery, the good ole boy character witness.
Enter Mccain's Sons
For all of the compromises John McCain has been willing to make in his pursuit of the White House, there's been one principle he's resolutely stuck by: He has not used his two sons' military service--one son, Jimmy, is a Marine who's done a tour in Iraq; another son, Jack, at the Naval Academ--for political purposes.
David Kusnet was chief speechwriter for former President Bill Clinton from 1992 through 1994. He is the author of Love the Work, Hate the Job: Why America's Best Workers Are Unhappier than Ever. John McCain canceled most events on the first night of the Republican National Convention and promised no partisan political rhetoric.
September 02, 2008
The Fantastic Five
With Mitt Romney slated to speak at the Republican convention tonight, the question on (at least some) people’s minds is what a certain Romney quintet has been doing since Mitt’s White House hopes dimmed. During the race for the Republican presidential nomination, you’ll remember, Romney’s five sons--by descending age: Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig--livened up the campaign trail with their gee-whiz antics, fraternal banter, and out-of-this-world bone structure. Their rise to fame began in early 2007, when they launched a blog, Five Brothers, on their dad’s campaign website.
The Bush Quarantine
What a weird speech? Keeping Bush locked up in the White House turned out to be a mistake. The crowd wanted to erupt and warmly embrace him. Instead, the whole moment felt rushed and disembodied. And it was clearly hard for him to deliver a full-throated political speech from the White House. All in all, it had the feel of a busted play. It’s stunning to see the decline in Bush’s rhetoric. Since Mike Gerson left his side, Bush’s speeches have really stopped singing. I can hardly remember a line from his oeuvre these past years.
Why Experience Matters, Cont'd
Republicans are still making the argument that Sarah Palin has the necessary experience to serve as vice president she has spent less than two years as governor of Alaska--er, sorry, I mean Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard. After careful consideration, I've decided not to rebut this argument, lest I lend it even a shred of credibilty. Instead, I'd like to dwell on why experience matters in a vice presidential candidate, perhaps even more than it matters in a presidential candidate.