Well Struck

Along with much of America, I’ve just watched Sarah Palin’s speech to the assembled Republican delegates, poo-bahs, and panjandrums. She made a very good showing, and my earlier characterization of her as nothing more than a “back-country Pentecostalist fishwife” was perhaps a trifle harsh.

The speech was about what you would expect: a fawning introduction of her swelling tribe, folksy bromides about small-town goodness, and dewy-eyed encomiums for the selfless warrior at the top of the ticket. Ms. Palin reserved a fair measure of praise for herself as well, contrasting, as expected, her conquest of Juneau — and single-handed cleansing of its Augean stable of lobbyists and special-interest brokers — with Mr. Obama’s utter lack of, well, anything at all worth mentioning. She also managed to wedge in, if rather jarringly, a brief discussion of foreign policy, in which she demonstrated her easy familiarity with the names of several other countries.

Ms. Palin is obviously intelligent, in a way, and for a newcomer to the national spotlight, she handled herself very well indeed, with confidence and poise. I did not notice the “up-talking” that irritated me so when she was introduced to the nation a few days back, and she has even, in this short interval, been trained to say “nuclear” (if my previous post was responsible for that, I will gladly waive my usual fee). It is easy to see, after this speech, that she is indeed a remarkably talented politician, and she will likely improve the ticket’s prospects in all those parts of the country where people “cling to guns and religion” — which is pretty much everywhere but Hollywood, Manhattan, Wellfleet, Seattle, Park Slope, and San Francisco (and perhaps even parts of the Twin Cities themselves, if Garrison Keillor and Al Franken are anything to go by).

The problem does remain, however, that Ms. Palin is, I hear, not only a Pentecostalist, but a young-earth creationist. That any sentient adult could actually believe such palpable rubbish in this day and age is, for me at least, grounds for disqualification for high office — particularly, in this case, given the actuarial prospects of a man of Mr. McCain’s wealth of years. But I must admit there is more to her than meets the eye.

I watched the speech on CNN, and the producers were not kind. To forestall any false impressions of extemporaneous eloquence on Ms. Palin’s part they cut often to an over-the-shoulder camera angle that showed the scrolling display of the teleprompter — and as soon as she was done speaking, they ran in the message-bar at the bottom of the screen a recap of all of Mr. McCain’s bouts of cancer, just in case we were actually thinking that if elected he might get through his term without invoking Section Three of the Twentieth Amendment.

So, in sum: John McCain and his party have made a daring and provocative choice. Yes, yes, Sarah Palin is a hick, a bumpkin — but quite a remarkable one indeed, and her presence in this contest will certainly liven things up. And if you don’t believe me, well, just have a look here.

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4 Comments

  1. JK says

    Now of course I’m not casting any aspersions here but as to the the proper pronunciation of nuclear? It seems that perhaps Waka just might be being read by the DC speech preparers, I happened upon a written text of “The Speech” and guess what?

    Where each instance of “nuclear” appeared in the text, it was spelled “new-clear.”

    Of course if actually pronounced as spelled, that could lead to rather unfortunate comparisons to, well… Hooked on Phonics anyone?

    Posted September 4, 2008 at 8:09 am | Permalink
  2. JK says

    I figured I’d best post a link, now mind ya gotta scroll down a bit past half-way but:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080904/ap_on_el_pr/cvn_palin_text

    Posted September 4, 2008 at 8:16 am | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Ha! That’s excellent, JK. They had to spell it out phonetically for her, and forgot to put it back to normal in the copy that went out to the press. Hilarious. Worth mentioning in a separate post, even. Thanks.

    Posted September 4, 2008 at 10:18 am | Permalink
  4. Charles says

    With all this talk of Palin around here, I thought I’d scour the web and see if I could find any interesting video footage. Wouldn’t you know it–she vlogs! She’s got five up so far, and you can check them out here:

    Sarah Palin’s Vlogs

    Very amusing (and probably better than the real thing).

    Posted September 4, 2008 at 10:35 am | Permalink