Sunday, September 07, 2008

Willie Brown on Palin

Willie Brown is one of the most experienced politicians in the country, though he may not be well known outside of California. He is why we have term limits . His political sense is second to none. This is what he said in his San Francisco Chronicle post today about Gov. Palin:

The Democrats are in trouble. Sarah Palin has totally changed the dynamics of this campaign.


Palin's speech to the GOP National Convention on Wednesday has set it up so that the Republicans are now on offense and Democrats are on defense. And we don't do well on defense.

Suddenly, Palin and John McCain are the mavericks and Barack Obama and Joe Biden are the status quo, in a year when you don't want to be seen as defending the status quo.

From taxes to oil drilling, Democrats are now going to have to start explaining their positions.

Whenever you start having to explain things, you're on defense.

I actually went back and watched Palin's speech a second time. I didn't go to sleep until 1:30 a.m. I had to make sure I got the lines right.

Her timing was exquisite. She didn't linger with applause, but instead launched into line after line of attack, slipping the knives in with every smile and joke.

And she delivered it like she was just BS-ing on the street with the meter maid.

She didn't have to prove she was "of the people." She really is the people.

There is one thing she should have done: announced when her 17-year-old daughter and the teenage father of the girl's unborn child are getting married and invited all of us to the wedding. It should be like Sunday at church.

As for Palin herself, she is going to be very, very effective on the campaign trail, especially if McCain's people can figure out how to gently keep her from getting into confrontations with the press.

If she can answer questions like she handled herself at the convention, Palin will turn out to be the most interesting person in all of politics, and the press will treat her like they treated Obama when he was first discovered.

And remember, the Palin bandwagon needs to roll for only two months.

Palin floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee

First off, I note that this is how you evaluate a political opponent. He has taken careful inventory of everything she brings to the table and is looking at her the way, say, an undecided voter would. He isn't looking to criticize her but to defeat her, which is something different than having the right policies.

The next point is what he starts the commentary with - that this is trouble for the Democrats. He can say this because he has evaluated what is in front of him the way a voter would, and then stepped back to put that into the context of Democratic strategy.

Why is this trouble? Because Democrats are on the defensive. The Republican ticket has made a bold move because that is their only strategy for winning, and it looks like it paid off. The boldness is not just picking this VP, but in grabbing away the Democratic messages and forcing the Dems to have to explain what their change is, why they are hope, just how they're going to deal with the energy crisis, etc.

Willie Brown said something I've been thinking the last few days, that Palin is like nothing so much as Obama himself at this time last year, a fresh new face that the press finds endlessly fascinating. Unlike Obama, she only has to keep that presentation going for nine more weeks and one debate where Biden is already hamstrung due to the rabid response of the Obamacans.

This is one of the reasons why I think any state that is tepidly blue is in danger of flipping. Palin doesn't have to be a great or even decent VP; she only has to be an effective campaigner from now through election day.



Erick L. said...

The smartest thing I've read all week is Brown's statement that:

"I actually went back and watched Palin's speech a second time. I didn't go to sleep until 1:30 a.m. I had to make sure I got the lines right."

So many of the responses/comments/broadsides against Palin that I've seen this week almost seemed to have been written before she even spoke, with a snippet of her speech (often clumsily) shoehorned into the mix.

I'm not sure that this sort of quick-draw response is very effective against an opponent who's as sharp as Palin seems to be. But I guess it's the flavor of the season.

Clyde said...

The question, "What do Democrats stand for?" has not come to the forefront just because of this election or Palin although it is front and center now. In the two years since the congressional elections of 2006, they (the Dems) still haven't been able to define what they stand for as they have capitulated to Bush's every whim time and time again. They took impeachment off the table, giving the Republicans a pass on all corruption as they voted to fund the war time after time after time. And let's be honest, they did so because they are under the old misguided notion that it is better to keep Bush and his war around during an election to remind people of how awful they are. Except we do remember that they had opportunities to change things at least somewhat and took a pass instead. They barely challenged Bush on his Supreme Court nominees, one of whom which I will remind you, Obama was all set to vote for until told it wasn't expedient. So if the question is being asked, "What do the Dems stand for" it's one they haven't even tried to answer for the past two years. But I can. They stand for whatever they consider political expedient for their careers. Nothing less, nothing more. Just like the Republicans.

Unknown said...

I think you worry too much about Palin. Despite the initial buzz about her the fizz will die as quickly as champagne bubbles and most people's initial reaction - Sarah who? - will prove to be the lasting story ie who is this person and what a ridiculous pick to be a heart beat away from the presidency. Palin shores up McCain's GOTV issues for sure but he desperately needed to get out the usual base just to prevent a landslide, he's a long way from being able to stay close enough for the Repubs to steal it this time.
Please note, this is not because of any prowess on Obama's part, it's simply the reality of the effect of the tanking economy which destroys any credibility the Repubs may have had with swing voters.
Lastly with Palin, the challenge to the press has been thrown down and I believe this year they'll take it and expose her for the pathological liar she is. For instance Frank Rich today takes her apart a huge difference from his behavior in 2000 and 2004.

Anonymous said...

I second Willie's take on this. I keep getting emails from Dems about how AWFUL Palin is on the issues.

I know.

But I can also take a step back and look at her the way my neighbor, who is barely paying attention, will see her. I can look at her the way my neighbor who has bought the Republican line that Dems are out of touch and Republicans "get" everyday Americans and see that she has appeal. And to him, that's all that matters.

The elections of the last two decades should be informing the Democrats that people don't vote laundry lists. They vote narrative. And that's where the Democrats fail over and over again.

And it can't be just a narrative of "change," because, as recent events have shown, John McCain just called them and raised them on that one.

Kanzeon said...

No one knows exactly how Palin will do in the general. Not you, not me, not Willie Brown. Not much dust has settled.

But the first returns are mixed. I realize that McCain and Palin are trying to claim the mantle of "change." They will have some initial success. But, as has been widely and obviously commented, if Obama is halfway awake, it is pretty hard for McCain to claim that he represents change considering his party's control of the government and his decades in the Senate. It will always be a hard argument. It seems to me that McCain's best argument is the one he has been using: that he is a moderate, makes tough choices that sometimes displease everyone, and has decades of experience, as opposed to Obama, who is a popular, lightweight, inexperienced crowd pleaser.

When surrogates start touting leadership of the National Guard as a foreign policy credential, they have badly damaged their experience argument. To suggest this is a pay grade issue COULD be true in another world, but the world we live in is one in which McCain has diluted the experience qualifications - not one in which they made another argument that talked more of potential than "being close to Russia, etc." There is no sign so far of the affirmative action assault on Obama.

And there isn't any reason to expect this assault, because again Palin dilutes it, and McCain hasn't given a hint of moving in that direction.

The early polls show that Palin energizes the bases of each party. McCain needed this. But it is a two edged sword. And the early polls show that Palin is not persuading the Clinton holdouts. She hasn't reached the middle. She might someday, but not today.

In other words, there is absolutely no indication that there is anything special here. Just a VP selection that isn't going to be a major factor in the race - as usual. It is possible that the evidence may change. But I'm not sure why people are out projecting, just because the Palin choice was high drama for the media for a few days.

There isn't any sign that McCain is running a very good campaign, in fact. Regardless of whether Palin turns out to be a good pick in the end, McCain was caught flat footed. His convention speech was uninspired. He has had some serious gaffes - his answer on the houses (although having more than one house is no sin, or a rich wife) was a bad fumble.

I think Obama is the worst candidate the Democrats have run in years. I think his presidency will be a failure, and set the Democrats back. I think that Clinton would have been the best Democratic president of my lifetime. BUT, that doesn't mean that Obama is going to lose. He is smart. He has a great ground game. This is a bad bad year for Republicans.

This could be Mondale's year.