The Weight Of The World On Gov. Palin
02 Oct 2008 01:40 pm
Going into this debate, Gov. Sarah Palin is the story. Every look, glance, gesture, utterance, sentence, every alveolar sound will be dissected and compared to her resonant convention speech in September.
Headed out of the debate, the McCain campaign wants Sen. Joe Biden, and, by proxy, Sen. Obama, to be the story.
There is no single expectation level for Palin to meet tonight. There are, quite obviously, a half dozen different levels corresponding to the difference audiences.
The American public wants to know whether Gov. Palin has the stature to stand on the world stage with Biden, Obama and McCain, that she is not manifestly different; that she is exceptional.
Unengaged liberal Democrats are waiting for her to drag her knuckles across the stage.
Engaged liberal Democrats expect her to emote and preen, to be folksy and rural, to avoid substance.
In the McCain campaign: frankly, expectations are high -- perhaps nowhere higher. The weight of the world is on Gov. Palin; she needs to avoid mistakes, challenge Sen. Biden, help to turn the narrative of the race back to Barack Obama, and to recapture her public image.
The media -- well, various different elements are watching for different things. Some, let's be honest, expect a knuckle-dragger too, but others will give her the win if she avoids major errors and finds a way to rise above her talking points.
The Obama campaign believes that the expectations game is absurd. Joe Biden cannot be mean, but he can't be nice, because that would be sexist too. He can't be too senatorial, but he can't be too regular, etc. Aides expect Joe Biden to do just fine.
Professional conservatives hope that Palin comes off as minimally competent.
Palin’s new plan: Go after Biden
ST. LOUIS " Sarah Palin plans to go on the attack in tonight’s debate, hitting Joe Biden for what she will call his foreign policy blunders and penchant for adopting liberal positions on taxes and other issues, according to campaign officials involved in prepping her for tonight’s showdown.
The Palin camp is projecting surprising self-confidence in the pre-debate hours, despite the vice presidential nominee’s uneven " and, at some points, peculiar " performances in recent television interviews, the officials say. Top advisers to John McCain privately say Palin’s recent CBS interview was a borderline disaster, especially since it played out in several segments over several days. Tonight will be different, they say.
“This is going to finally put her back into a position where we see her like we saw her the first couple weeks,” a McCain official said. “She was herself. She was authentic, and people related to that. ... Tonight, she’ll get into a rhythm. You’re going to see her in a way that you haven’t seen her yet.”
By contrast, Biden plans what an aide calls "a just-the-facts, prosecutorial approach laying out the case against McCain and defending Obama." The aide said Biden will be "keeping the eye on the target, which is McCain."
If its a debate about issues, she should do pretty well.