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Has the McCain Campaign Broken Sarah Palin?

Ezra Klein (and pretty much anyone else who's watched the Palin-Couric interviews) asks, "What's happened to Sarah Palin?"

The fact that Palin's responses to questions are becoming increasingly incoherent rather than rapidly more polished is interesting. Rote memorization should have all but eliminated the overlay of nonsense in her answers by now.

I don't pretend to have any first- (or second- or third-) hand knowledge of why it is that Palin's performance in the Katie Couric interviews was so much worse than her performance with Charlie Gibson just a couple of weeks ago. But I've been wondering for a while now just how Palin would hold up under what amounts to a constant, emphatic vote of no confidence from the McCain campaign.

Put yourself in her shoes for a moment. She was an ambitious, confident young pol with some impressive political accomplishments in her home state who, one can guess, had aspirations for taking her brand national at some point but not for at least a few more years. Though versed in the issues facing Alaska, she'd spent vanishingly little time considering the issues facing the rest of the country. (And, as someone who's been to Alaska a few times and even co-owned land there for a while, I think I can say that issue terrain is very different.)

She's unexpectedly plucked from obscurity by the McCain campaign and, after a couple of rough days of media vetting, she gives a speech at the GOP convention--the first speech she's ever given with anything approaching this level of prominence--and is universally declared to have hit it out of the park. She is anointed a "political superstar" by every talking head who can get to a microphone.

Now, I don't know Sarah Palin (obviously), but at this point I suspect she envisioned the next several weeks as a continuation of her coming-out-party/victory-tour. She'd do packed events before cheering members of the GOP base (something she has in fact done), but she'd be a superstar in all the other typical ways, too. She'd be ubiquitous on the tube, doing the "Tonight Show" and "Good Morning America," and, who knows, maybe even the political shows. She'd be so forthright and funny and charming and genuine that the whole country would fall in love with her. She'd be followed by a media throng that hung on her every word.

Instead, she hasn't been allowed to give them a word to hang on: no press conferences (until one yesterday that hardly merited the term), a couple of scripted, softbally interviews, and an ongoing effort by the McCain campaign to have her vice presidential debate postponed indefinitely. The obvious implicit message her preppers and coddlers and protectors in the campaign are giving her is: You're not ready. We don't trust you. You have no idea what you're talking about. Don't ever open your mouth unless you've cleared it with us or you might destroy the whole campaign. These are not pleasant things to hear, and Palin has presumably been hearing them (again, by implication) every day for weeks now.

When I compare Palin's performance with Gibson to her performance with Couric, the biggest difference I see is confidence. With Gibson, she obviously lacked the knowledge one expects at this level, but she seemed to have a glib faith that she could bluff her way through. She may not have answered many of his questions directly, but her evasions were, for the most part, perfectly articulate and comprehensible. In the Couric interviews, by contrast, she often seemed to be stringing along buzz words and sentence fragments that even she recognized to be gibberish. With Gibson, she was tap dancing; with Couric she was drowning.

I'm reminded of the situation you see every now and then in sports, when a talented athlete--which, conveniently enough, Palin was--gets a taste of heavy duty coaching and, rather than being built up, is broken down, losing confidence in his game, becoming tentative, second-guessing himself even to the point of paralysis. I don't know whether that's what's happened to Sarah Palin. But from where I sit, it sure looks like it.

-- Christopher Orr
The New Republic

Re: Has the McCain Campaign Broken Sarah Palin?

I can't wait to hear the debate between her & Biden!
Her interview with Katie Couric made her look and sound like she has the wrong haircolor...maybe she was born blonde?!

And speaking of debates----what did you all think of McCain's comment that he "loves the veterans and will look after them"??? That one REALLY ticked me off! Lying a-hole!!

Re: Has the McCain Campaign Broken Sarah Palin?

maggie I fell off my coach when he said that about Veterans

Re: Has the McCain Campaign Broken Sarah Palin?

As soon as I heard McCain say that I thought "there's your opening, Go get him." I was dissapointed that Obama did not press him on his voting record on Veterans' issues.
I have sent the following sugestion to the Obama campaign.
Why did you let McCain off of the hook, in Friday's debate, when he claimed to support Veterans? McCain has a rotten record on Veterans issues, yet he panders to us as "one of us." I wish you had pointed that out. I hope you haven't conceded the Veteran vote to McCain. It is time to disenthrall veterans about Republican lip service, with no real action. I am a Vietnam Veteran, and a Democrat. To me, Iraq appears to be what I feared it would be from the beginning - "Vietnam in the desert."
William A. Matz

Re: Has the McCain Campaign Broken Sarah Palin?

After the Debate I happened to see a short interview with Joe Biden. He brought up some points and one of the points was the DAV report on the voting record of McCain.

Even though Obama did not call McCain out on it during the debate, I think that it is well known by any Veteran interested in Veterans Issues. In Fact at the recent DAV Convention in Las Vegas John McCain got a nice welcome from the delegates, but was criticized over his "Card" idea and his voting record by many after his speech he made.

The DAV will not endorse a Candidate, but they will put out the facts regarding the stance on how a Candidate views Veteran Issues and most of all his record. Its oblivious to me that McCain has read the DAV monthly Magazine that goes out to 1.8 million Disabled Veterans and is worried just a bit about how they view his stance.

The old days of saying "I love the veterans" to get their vote are over, veterans are more likely to search for the facts these days, than to just vote for him because he's a Vietnam Veteran. I think that was proven when Jim Nicholson was appointed to Sec. of Veterans Affairs by the Bush administration, he was a Vietnam Veteran and probably the worst Sec of the VA EVER Appointed.

BTW-- The Pick for the Disabled Veteran of the year by the DAV, is Tammy Duckworth. I think that if Obama is elected she will be at the Top of the list to be the next Sec. of Veterans Affairs.

Re: Has the McCain Campaign Broken Sarah Palin?

I wish I could agree with you. I'm not so sure that the majority of Veterans are aware of the dismal Republican record. Unless they are actually involved with the VA, they probably overlook it. I think the majority of Veterans tend to be conservative, unless they are given a jolt. They need to be shown that while McCain talks about "My fellow Veterans," their brothers are suffering from neglect due to the "rhetoric only" Veterans' policies of the Republican party. Also, families of Soldiers, and veterans, need to know exactly what these "Super Patriots" think of us, once we've served their purpose. I wonder how many people, who heard Biden's reference to the "DAV," know who they are. Their are so many so called Veterans groups out there, with political agendas other than Veterans, that people need to be told exactly why the DAV is worth listening to. (Remember the "Swift Boaters?")
You take an active interest in Veterans issues, and it had an impact on your political leanings. I'm not sure the general public, or even the majority of Veterans, is as cognizent of these things.
We know that, once we have served their purpose, the Republican party has no more use for us than a worn out combat boot.

Re: Has the McCain Campaign Broken Sarah Palin?

Recommended reading: The Real McCain

I wish everyone in America would read this book! Of course the repubs won't because they think it's biased. Everything in the book is backed up with documented FACTS.