This is one of the first columns I read the morning after watching Palin crush Biden in the 2 Oct Vice Presidential debate.
THE VEEP DEBATE: SHE'S BACK!
October 3, 2008
EVERY Republican in America rejoiced last night: "At long last the Couric captivity is over! Sarah Palin is free!"
Palin had suffered through a series of nightly interview bits with CBS anchor Katie Couric that seemed to last a month, with the Alaska governor shedding credibility by the minute. But last night, they instantly became a distant memory.
Palin held her own against Joe Biden, and flashed the poise and charm that made her such a star at the Republican convention.
She talked about regular middle-class people with the credibility of having lived that life every day, even for a time lacking health insurance. Or, as she put it at the end, she and John McCain will "fight for the middle-class, average family - like mine."
Last night, Palin plainly had two ingredients that were missing from her network TV interviews, and they made all the difference:
* She was more familiar with the substance. If she'd been as well-briefed and comfortable with the material before those interviews, the McCain campaign could have spared itself weeks of bad publicity.
* She'd learned to sidestep questions she found awkward and steer the discussion onto better ground for her (usually energy policy).
By the end, as she got even more comfortable, she seemed to become more winsome by the minute - her smile sparkling as she even threw off the occasional wink. She jabbed Biden with a good-natured, "There you go again, Joe." And Biden himself seemed genuinely charmed.
Lowry's column highlights two important points. First, Palin has re-invigorated a demoralized republican (emphasis on republican) base. Second, the media elite (including him) still can't get it through their thick heads that taped interviews are edited into fiction.
The first point is most important. The gap in the polls over the last few days has been widening. That isn't because Barack's percentages are increasing. It's because McCain's percentages are decreasing. Barack rests somewhere between 48-50 in most polls. McCain used to be somewhere around 46-48. But in the last few days he's dropped to around 44 (and I'm guessing that the Gallup poll today is going to be very ugly). It is McCain's support that is weakening, and I think that is because his potential supporters have had nothing to cheer for in almost two weeks. Palin changes that now. There's something to cheer for again. And there's more to cheer against, as Palin has stood up to the media and won. The media theme that she can't string two sentences together is crushed, and if you can't cheer for McCain, you can at least make faces at our lying media, while you wave your "Vote for Palin" bumper stickers in their general direction.
But the second point is important as well. It is not only the traditional liberal media that is clueless. We are also poorly served by a lot of our conservative voices in the media. How stupid do you have to be, to not understand that someone like Katie Couric at CBS news wouldn't go to the end of the Earth to make Palin look bad in an interview? Do people like Rich Lowry actually believe that what he observed of the CBS interviews was an unedited, unfiltered look at Palin? Obviously he does, because even after seeing her unedited debate performance, he STILL thinks Palin was simply affected by temporary mental disability during her interviews on CBS and ABC. With that assumption, he marks himself as suffering from a developmental disability of his own and should perhaps spend a LOT more time away from his wonkish, media elite, out of touch with reality friends. Republican morale suffered blows from the idiotic comments of its supposed media allies (has anyone seen Kathleen Parker lately?) as much as from anything the McCain campaign actually did or didn't do on its own, and the comments from people like Lowry are not only short-sighted...they are wrong.
So if Palin has invigorated the Republican Party, she has done a lot more than win a debate. I believe she has done both. It will be 3 or 4 days before that shows up in any tracking poll. But with McCain's debate coming up on Tuesday, that might give him the momentum he needs to finally take the offensive on Obama.