Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Grand Unified Theory of Palin Speech Reactions

There seem to be two major schools of thought: that Palin did fabulously, and that Palin gave a speech that will resonate only with the Republican base, full of attacks and talking points and no solutions (oh, and yes: a whole lot of lies). Josh Marshall encapsulates the two schools of thought here:
I know I'm swimming upstream against a stiff current. But I'll stick to my first impression. I think Mike Allen is nuts to call the Palin speech a grand slam. For partisan Republicans, absolutely. It's a bad year for Republicans and the desire for something or someone to get excited about is palpable. And they got it. But there's only so much more consolidating of the Republican base McCain can do. As good as her delivery was, I really don't think this was a speech that spoke to the issues that are driving the election this year. I don't think it's a slashing attacks against liberal elites kind of year.
But perhaps there is a way to cut this particular Gordian Knot, and understand both as true. Some commentators in the mainstream media thought that Palin's speech -- designed to please primarily the Republican base -- was a "grand slam" because they are part of that base. The so-called liberal media loves "slashing attacks against liberal elites" (even though they are, themselves, elites, who often self-identify as liberal, however much the designation fails to truly fit). After eight years of disastrous conservative governance, only the rabid republican base could see liberalism as the problem: but the SCLM are definitely in that camp.

And no surprise: this is the group that was, for years, McCain's "base". They eat up this stuff. So when Palin fed read meat to the base, Mike Allen heard a grand slam. Because the speech was designed for him.

The only question is will enough Americans hear not the speech but the spin; or hear the speech without anyone to question the lies and distortions (since the SCLM doesn't seem that interested). In which case it might actually work. When the media's your base, playing to the base is particularly powerful.

Update: For a great analysis of precisely how Palin appealed to her base, read Rick Perlstein's blow-by-blow. (Via)

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