September 4th, 2008
10:12 AM ET

The Republicans' Last Night

Joe Klein
AC360° Contributor
TIME columnist

As I predicted earlier yesterday, Sarah Palin did just fine.

In fact, she delivered a brilliant speech. It was a classic Republican speech–written by Matthew Scully of the Bush speechwriting shop–chock full of conservative populism, a cultural "torpedo" as Chris Mathews is saying as I write this, aimed directly at Barack and Michelle Obama. She was far more effective, using fewer words than the over-the-top Rudy Giuliani, in tearing down the Obama candidacy. There was not much substance–issues don't matter, remember?–and her description of Obama's policies, particularly his tax policies, was quite inaccurate.

But that hardly matters. Palin established herself as a major-league performer, a very effective messenger for the perennial Republican themes of low taxes and strong defense. And a new theme–government reform–that changes the terrain of the election and will have to be forcefully countered by the Democrats. Obama will have to be every bit as sharp–and down to earth–as he was in his speech last week as this goes forward.

Last week, when Bill Clinton began to speak, I thought: this turns this lugubrious convention around. I thought the same as Palin spoke tonight. John McCain, not nearly the speaker that Palin seems to be, has a tough act to follow tomorrow night.


soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Rosie

    Now that Sarah Palin has made a public display of her ability to give punches, Will we now see her ability to receive punches, or will we hear the words "fowl play" while others use the fact that she is a female, to protect her from the very thing she has been fighting to achieve-( to be treated as though she is a man)?
    Remember, she can only wear one pair of shoes. She can not have a pair of female shoes on inside of a pair of male shoes; neither can she walk with one foot in the men's world and one foot in the females world, for whether we want to accept it or not, there is truly a difference.
    If she is as tough as she has made herself seem, then she should tell all of those who are asking that she be respected as a female, to hold their peace, and just let the chips fall where they will.
    But this will not be done, because then she would not be able to strike a blow as a man, and then jump back into her female covering.
    Speaking as a woman, we women need to get it together. Do we really believe we are equal to the man, or are we just bored in our own world? Actions speak louder than words, and the action I see says that we do not want to be equal to the man, but just play in the man's world. Yes there is a difference, and it was God who made the difference. And whether we believe it or not, God's men are precious unto him; So beware women how you come out against Obama, for it will not be pleasing unto God.

    September 4, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  2. Tom

    Thank you 360, but you know my comment to David in Lexington is both truthful,sincere, and accurate. No one uses Barack's middle initial unless they want to portray a racist philosophy towards Obama by accusing him or creating the implication that he is Muslim and dangerous. Thank you

    September 4, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  3. Tom

    To David in Lexington

    Glad you showed yourself to be a racist. BH Obama. Just like Fox. Why is it that you do not use the middle initials of the other candidates? Why because you are a racist!

    September 4, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  4. Nathan

    Gov Palin said what the GOP schooled her to say, how can you diss someone you hardly even know. Again it showed that the Rep have no class. Guiliani, the man has crap for brains, Thompson bad actor and a do nothing politician. Yes they had the convention goers jumping up and down, but while they were celebrating I;m sure they were saying to themselves,"we are soooo fried". McCain's not so live crew just don't get it.

    September 4, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  5. Peter Houston

    One thing is clear: by choosing Sarah Palin, the McCain campaign is able to drag the Obama campaign into the mud to debate who has more 'experience' - Obama or Palin - while McCain is able to stay above the fray and move forward with his own platform. In that sense, choosing Palin was a brilliant election tactic.

    This real question becomes 'is it right to use a running mate who could potentially become president (if something happened to McCain) as a 'tactic'?'

    I ask myself this question designed to put Palin's choice in perspective: 'if in the worst case something happens to McCain and - for example - it becomes clear that there is going to be another war in the Middle East - is Palin the one we want at the helm?

    I am not saying that Palin wouldn't some day make a great representive or senator, and potentially a great president after that - I just don't think she is ready today, and by using her as a tactic to get elected is short-sighted and irresponsible.

    And I'm a die-hard republican.

    September 4, 2008 at 3:31 pm |

    Great speech! 🙂

    I'm a supporter now!

    September 4, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  7. Elizabeth Canada

    As a Canadian who has followed this presidential race very closely, I am appalled by how much support McCain and Palin are still receiving after the disastrous 8 years under Bush. The whole world is watching this election pulling their hair out over how close this election is and why the American people can't see past through all the spin, hypocrisy and scare tactics the Republicans have continued to use?

    When watching the DNC I was filled with hope and pride for a country that I don't even live in. With the RNC, I am filled with disgust by the snide remarks and the low sarcastic attacks. These attacks just show how it's politics as usual for the republicans, while Obama is really trying to change politics.

    McCain's pick of Sarah Palin shows his true intentions. He is not looking out for the future of America but is trying to secure his own win. He does not care about YOU, the american people, but is looking out for his own political success. McCain's pick of Palin to try and win former Hillary supporters only shows how stupid he thinks they are. I hope you prove the republicans wrong and vote Obama!!

    September 4, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  8. patsy

    Obama has repeatly said that "it's about the people." Well, he clearly did not do what a great majority of the people wanted. If he was so concerned about the people , he would have chosen Hillary Clinton as his VP. In the end he did what he wanted. McCain listened. I'm changing my vote from Democratic to Republican.

    September 4, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  9. Andrea (Suitland, MD)

    Barack and Michelle Obama exemplify class, are well educated and gave up making a ton of money to do public service. They do not have issues, yet and prayerfully never, with their kids. This crass John McCain mouthpiece is probably a great govenor, but that does not make her Presidential material. I could see Condaleeza Rice with her qualifications being asked, but then again she had the good sense to say thanks but no thanks. John McCain is a joke and his picking this throwback to the '60's woman was truly asanine. I think he's senile or penile, one or the other. And the references to Barack being a Messiah which simply means saviour, are uncalled for. If your electricity goes out, and the repair person comes to fix it and turn it back on, you know who he is. He's the electrician. Obama is the next President. Get your concession speech ready John. You lose.

    September 4, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  10. Jean, Michigan

    What a mean-spirited, nasty, strident speech from Sarah Palin.

    McCain/Palin 08?

    Thanks, but no thanks.

    September 4, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  11. Maritza

    @ Cnn moderator, and Larry, you people (exception Joe Klein) I seen your commentary on CNN you are dignified and have class,) have 0 class and are low life's and uneducated, how dare you use that vulgar language it shows your rage and jealousy as you witness a very confident and qualified women speak the truth , the truth liberals are foolish to ignore about Obama , his gross lack of qualifications as pointed out in a TKO by Sarah Palin, it pains you to see how relevant she was in her speech, the world has it's eye's on her and for good reason , she pointed out time and time again in detail how underqulified Obama is , you people are blinded by hate , again Larry your vulgar language has no place in this blog.


    September 4, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  12. Lorraine

    OK. She read her speach that the Republicans wrote for her, but we still don't know what they are going to do to help the average family in this country. If it is county first, then why are they still so worried about freeing Irag, instead of taking care of the problems at home? If they love the USA so much, why are they still sending all of our jobs to other countries and leaving us unemployed? If Mc Cain is such a wonderful guy, then why did he cheat on his wife with numerous women, after his first wife waited for him to come back from war for five and a half years? He didn't want her anymore because she was in an accident while he was gone and was injured and gained a few pounds. She wasn't the hot swim suit model he left, so he had to go out and find another hot , rich women. If the Republicans all love this war so much, then let them go and fight it. It's always the poor and middle class that are over there fighting these wars that they create, very rarely their rich little college boys. If we don't start taking in more tax money how are we going to pay for the nine trillion dollar defecit that is being left to our children and grandchildren? I have been working for thirty-nine years and have never been laid off and out on unemployment, until now. My husband is on disability and without my income we will probably lose our home. So what are the Republicans going to do for us? All I got out of her speach was that they want four more years of a war that we should never have gotten involved in, tax breaks for the rich as usual, worry about big business and forget the working class, and nothing being done to help the struggling families here in "our country". I am sick of the Republicans acting like they are the only people that have religion and love their country. If it weren't for us hard working Democrats they would be nothing.

    September 4, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  13. eric

    Where was the backlash against RFK who was campaigning for POTUS and his wife was pregnant with their 11th child?

    September 4, 2008 at 2:31 pm |
  14. sandra/canada

    There is a part of me that is thrilled there is a woman knocking on the door of the most powerful office on the planet. However that sentiment has been overshadowed by the realization that right wing hypocrisy is alive and well. I agree with Senator Obama - people's children are off limits. Sarah Palin is not the first or last mother to deal with a pregnant teenager. But this is a woman who is anti-choice, against sex ed, against condoms, and believes in abstinence only. If her ideology doesn't work in her own home how can she then turn around and be willing to impose that same ideology on the population at large.
    I noticed at the convention last night the Republicans have opened their old bag of tricks and are bashing the media to get them to back off. This has worked in the past. I hope it doesn't this time because thanks to Bush/Cheney/Rove the entire continent has received an excellent education in political tactics and manipulation. I have observed that when people are frustrated and angry with their sitting government those feelings have a tendency to spill over onto the establishment at large. That includes the media and (note to evangelicals) the religious establishment.


    September 4, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  15. Tommy (Arizona)

    Hardly a lie about Obama and taxes. When you tax the rich, it becomes a tax on the non-rich. I guess no one knows anything about econmics.

    September 4, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  16. Crystal , Mississippi

    I find it sad that the GOP thinks that community organizing is beneath them. Last night to me look like a different rally my grandparents use to me about when I was younger. GOP we are not STUPID so please save that for someone else. I don't if anyone else noticed how jealous the GOP is, they are trying so hard to be the popular kid in school. We are in mist of hard times, not a freaking popularity contest.


    September 4, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  17. Sherry

    Palin was brilliant last night. However, one would say she was chosen only to get attention. McCain and his camp had to come up with a strategy because of being behind in the polls. What could get more attention than a working mom with issues to relate to others. I thought more of McCain until he pulled this charade.

    Its obvious, its not country first!

    September 4, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  18. Tracey Williams

    I was very annoyed today after seeing this attack from Palin. I was very sympathetic with her since I also have a Down syndrome 22 year old boy. How could everyone allow this woman to get away with soliciting her Down syndrome baby as a pond, also attacking everyone including the community organizers when she never even gave an interview to anyone yet. It made me sick to see her young pregnant daughter and such young boyfriend on stage, is this our country's values are? honestly is this what we are going to teach our kids, go ahead mom and daughter, lets all have babies, live in the same house and at the same time teach the other young women how to do this. This is rediculous, and trusts me this has nothing to do with Obama, BIDEN, and DEMOCRATICS OR REPUBLICS. I am very sad today that these are the values we teach our kids. I also think that either Ms. Clinton or Ms. Rice or someone please say something to help our daughters to see that this is not the right thing to do please I ask someone to step up Enough is Enough, I am so speechless, this is what our Media has come to. I promise I will never look at the news again; my TV is only for watching sports. I am so tired of both parties, using women and babies as ponds, I am so sick to my stomach. Start covering the news, that's a change to believe in!

    September 4, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  19. Miss Cotty

    I am another independent working mother who is disgusted with the Republican party's attempt to manipulate their way into my life by throwing multiple messages out and hoping something sticks. I really resented the condescending attitude that overflowed last night – especially regarding community organizing.

    Tell that to the professionals in the non profit sector who organize themselves around noble missions and achieve great things every day. They bragged about a service theme, but actually only meant military service. I am sure she relied on comunity organizers to get her into the mayor's office of small town alaska.

    Stop insulting us and figure out how to add some diversity to your audiences.

    September 4, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  20. Louie

    I was waiting for the POM POMs and the give me a R give me an E give me a P etc.
    What a JOKE.....

    September 4, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  21. Allen

    The press is letting her off too easy.
    Her denigration of Community Organizers? Big applause for the contempt for Community Organizers???
    What the hell is the PTA, then?
    "Pundants"! Get off your ass and get back to work!

    September 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  22. Marlon

    Reading all the comments posted today says a lot to me. The majority of you are people who truly care about what happens to this country not who can demean their opponents the most. Last night, the republicans made it vastly clear that they're not concern about what we want for this country but how to make it more beneficial for them. ?They don't care if your place of employment is going to have massive lay-offs. They don't care that your insurance company crease premiums to the point where you have to drop it. They don't care if you have family members who are serving 3 and 4 tours of duty in Iraq. They care about you electing them so they can finish the job of destroying the middle class.

    To rational people everywhere! DO NOT BE FOOLED! There is a writing on the wall that many of us do not pay attention to because it may seem silly, irrational and paranoid but check out how many of these rich conservative republicans stress war. If anyone has seen the speech Palin gave not long ago saying that "it was God's mission for us to go to war in Iraq". According to her it's God mission for the U.S. to go to Iraq, kill the innocent women and children and take their oil.

    Are those the type of Christian values we who are Christians have? Are those the type of values that we who just hold morality to the highest standards have? Do we really believe that we're entitled to rape and pillage other nations just because we decide to do so? Don't fall for their rhetoric. Let's us not be fooled once more.

    September 4, 2008 at 2:04 pm |
  23. Victoria V. Anderson Seattle, Washington

    What I don't get is how the GOP keep saying that America will love Sarah once we get to know her.
    O.K, I was willing to get to know her so I watched her speech last night. I heard alot of negative B.S, no real solutions to the problems we have in the United States, nothing on unity with other countries and basically I am offended as a woman because the more I think about why McShame picked her was clearly for all the wrong reasons. I'm not a Repulican but I think he would have came off better with a woman who knows the United States (not including a Alaska) a little better then Sarah. Please do not take this as a racist statement, but is there any black people in Alaska? Have she ever worked in a enviroment with different people of color dealing with the many issues that we have here in the United States? (I know Alaska is a part of the United States, but clearly it seem kinda seperate if you ask me.) Did she even go to college? I'm wondering did she become Mayor just because the 7000 voters didn't have any other choice.
    Hell, if you can be mayor and Governor without going to college, and plus chillin on he side being a hockey mom; well, I'm start telling all the kids to move to Alaska because that's clearly where it's at......

    September 4, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  24. Kareen

    I am disappointed that the Republican party has decided to go this route. John McCain may state that he understands the plight of the American "public", however he has led a very insulated life. He was raised a "navy brat" which is OK, but does offer insulation from the fears that many others face..unemployment, housing issues, healthcare issues, etc. He then chose the same life as an adult and then moved on to politics and wealth thru his marriage to Cindy. So he chooses Sarah Palin as his running mate. She has been insulated in her own way and is terribly lacking in experience. I wonder if one of the reasons that he chose her was her experience with tv and teleprompters. Sorry, the Republicans are NOT in tune with the American Public. PS: I have been attempting to watch the RNC and have been looking for the sea of black, brown, or young faces that I saw at the DNC..all I have seen are token ones here and there!!!

    September 4, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  25. eric

    A quick look at the reviews by world media on the rnc speeches shows that the world is laughing at us, and deservedly so. We cannot hold an election without it becoming an elementary school spiteful name-calling by all involved in both parties. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

    September 4, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  26. Lester from Alabama

    Was I the only one that heard that speech? Its was horrible! All it proved is that Sarah Palin can read from a teleprompter but I still don’t know who she actually is. The speech only berated and belittled the accomplishments of Senator Obama. Historically, ‘community organizers’ have brought together people of common interests to petittion those in power to bring about fair civil rights legislation, the right to vote for women, and much needed change in policies from everything from domestic violence issues to things like child protection laws. In Obama’s case, he found his niche in fighting for those on the southside of Chicago affected by the harsh realities of inner-city life and the loss of desperately needed jobs. While Palin was far removed from the realities that confront many Americans by her ‘immeasurable’ work in the remote town of Wasilla, Alaska….Senator Obama was getting his feet wet working on relevant issues to those who love this country. Later, he would serve in the Illinois State Senate and then as a U.S. Senator. Instead of being the ‘attack dog’ of John McCain and trying to scare us…she should have spent time discussing how she will contribute in turning around the economic woes created by the Bush/Cheney policy. Besides, she came across as being just plain mean.

    September 4, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  27. Nicole in Alabama

    After the DNC I felt really proud of my country for the first time in my adult life. I felt hope, prosperity, peace, unity, pride and the feeling that somebody cared about the issues. I am 26 yrs old and this will be my first time voting ever. I have always been turned off by politics because of its ugliness but the GOP took to another level. I heard nothing but hatred and fear coming from everyone that took the stage and they suger-coated it everytime by stating they are putting the country first. How is this putting the country first when you demean and belittle volunteer work or community organizing? When did it become funny or a joke to laugh and demean someone that helped people become productive citizens after losing their jobs or helping single mothers get to work and off welfare.

    The GOP can use 9/11 to scare everyone into voting for them but it isn't going to work on me. I'm just as scared of McCain/Palin as I am of Osama Bin Laden. You can scare me and say that Obama is trying to make government large but you will force your radical views of social issues on me if you become elected.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE! Vote for Obama!

    September 4, 2008 at 1:49 pm |
  28. Vegas

    I loved it...

    Obama and his cronies started a very vile and negative campaign against her from the start... attacking her, her family, even her little girl....

    She came out and punched them in the mouth... they talk of substance but she addressed more in 40 minutes than the entire dem convention...

    It's the start of the fall for Obama the tool... and I'm rolling

    September 4, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
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