Could Sarah Palin really be a Walt Disney creation? At some point the comparisons between her and perky Mouseketeer Annette are hard to push out of consciousness. Annette learned her lines and recited them with real “Gosh, Shucks” authenticity in such a way that she became an old man’s and America ’s sweetheart (not to mention for those of us who remember her tenure there how Walt idolised her in an almost eerie parallel way.)
Or perhaps she is one of those lifelike, animatronic figures talking away 20 shows a day on the wall of Disneyland ’s The Country Bear Jamboree show? They spring to life for their bit then the whirrrr as they go back to sleep and she spits out the canned one-line stump zingers and platitudes each time and never changing?
The problem is she had a disaster of a week leading up to last night’s debate and is trying to prove there is something there because before last night there was no there there. When out of her comfort zone she retreated to her stump speech and safe lines. Try to drill baby drill and there was nothing beyond the same zingers on the campaign.
The right is energized and oh so proud. She didn’t throw up on herself. She didn’t look like a deer in the headlights as she did all week with Katie Couric. Indeed I’m not sure beyond stringing her banal aww shucks-isms together Tina Fey has anything to work with this week in her Saturday Night Live parody.
She used her folksy charm. There were times she actually completed whole sentences and seemed to metaphorically punch her weight. CNN snap polls felt she did much better than expected without turning the dials on her ability to sit as President much higher.
The problem for the Republicans? She was completely out-classed on points and everything else by Joe Biden in the debate. He also scored very highly in the better than expected and political pundit David Gergen felt he gave “the best debate of his life.” Joe Biden hammered away at John McCain’s maverick image and his record.
The problem is it does not change the electoral map. It does not change the dynamics of the race.
She has mastered snarky. Snarkiness and dismissiveness work if you can pull it off without sounding smarmy. David Cameron, leader of the UK Tory Party has benefited from the economic decline here by being in the right place at the right time. The UK has Labour Party fatigue after 12-years of Blair/Brown rule and he has seized the day.
He pulls off snarky without becoming condescending. He has the education and breeding (Eaton and Oxford ) to: know where the line is, rush up to it, place a toe over it and step back. He also does smarmy and with an election here in 2010 that is his Achilles Heel.
Sarah Palin does US snarky which lacks the wit, creativity and spirit of debate and seeks only to destroy. Brits know wit and giving each other “stick.” In the USA it is blood sport. Here it is serious but both parties shake hands afterwards and share a pint.
After four days of debate school up the creek in Arizona , Sarah Palin had a blizzard of words until something came up that was not on her cue cards.
The most frightening moment of the debate: when she suggested the Vice President needed more powers. After 8-years of a co-presidency with Dick Cheney as the most powerful VP in history, if successful, John McCain may need a food taster in the White House. It seems as if Sarah Palin was already planning for a 2012 Presidential run?
Thankfully Joe Biden slammed that shot back over the volleyball net saying Article 1 is very clear and gives very clear limits to VP authority. The question remains though, who’s on the top of the ticket?
Biden showed remarkable restraint. Palin was folksy, Biden brought up hard core issues. He clearly won, was on his game and nailed John McCain’s record and linked him inextricably to George W. Bush.
Take us home fellow Mouseketeers…
“S-a-r (see ya real soon),
r-a-h (why, because you’re a disgrace)…
Denis Campbell is a US journalist based in the United Kingdom. He contributes to newspapers and magazines, is a BBC Radio election commentator and publishes the daily e-magazine The Vadimus Post from the Latin Quo Vadimus – where are we headed and do we know why?
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