September 3rd, 2008
11:48 PM ET
6 years ago

Gergen: Palin delivers

Palin addressed the RNC Wednesday.
Palin addressed the RNC Wednesday.

Republicans got everything they could possibly want from Sarah Palin tonight: she was a large, confident personality - one Democratic friend ruefully wrote that she reminded him of Ann Richards - and she delivered an extremely well crafted speech. Before the speech, Republican strategists told Dana Bash of CNN that they hoped that she would show viewers "a common touch with executive presence", and she definitely succeeded at that.

Three things in particular stood out:

1. She joked that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is ...lipstick. Clearly, in the next few weeks, she will play the role of a pit bull with lipstick. My sense is that she will very likely connect with blue collar America but may be much less successful in suburban America.

2. Her personal story is also one that will relate well to people. She has a quality of seeming like the girl next door.

3. She showed a lot of confidence in addressing energy toward the end of the speech, which gave her more substantive depth.

Now let us be clear: there will be tons of Democrats and others who will disagree with her and will take sharp exception with her views. Her jabs at Barack Obama and the Democrats were surprisingly personal at times. And she will face tough questioning ahead from the press. After all, there are still some serious questions about what kind of president she might be. We are going to have a rough and tumble race down the home stretch.

soundoff (1,124 Responses)
  1. Mark

    Obama's first executive decision: Joe Biden, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and chief negotiator in the Balkans.

    McCain's first executive decision: Sarah Palin. Mayor of village of 6000 with degree in journalism, and governor for 18 months of a state with lower population than Columbus, OH.

    It's clear who has the judgement to be President.

    September 4, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  2. rob

    Gergen, you are one of my favorite TV pundits, but I have to disagree with you on this one. This was a pathetic speech! Hatred, bile and sarcasms. No substance. And the delivery was merely adequate.

    September 4, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  3. KAY

    Go Campbell Brown and Don't Stop, you are our voice... Palin needs to know that the media advocates the concerns of the American people and we deserve to know all about her experience. Not how she shuffles and cheer leads a crowd of over fifty men.

    I am Suburban Mom

    September 4, 2008 03:28 am at 3:28 am |
  4. Douglas Berger

    Dear David, I must echo some of the sentiments already found in the comments here. Debates about experience are relevant to this campaign, as are debates over issues. But the attacks that were made by speaker after speaker at tonight's Republican Convention on Obama's community organizing activity were extremely uncivil and not at all consistent with the supposed theme of the Convention, which is service to country. Community organizers run real organizations which have staffs and budgets, and they help neigborhoods in severe economic distress. Obama's directorship of Developming Communities Project helped building tenents get asbesdos removed from their apartments, set up job banks for the unemployed and college tutoring programs for young people. Obama, in his three years at this organization, added numerous people to the volunteer staff, more than quadrupled the organization's budget, and in conpensation was paid a poverty-level anual wage of about $10,000 a year. He did this work in his early 20's, left Wall Street jobs to take the work and, after his three years, he did not use it to "climb the greasy ladder of Chicago politics" (Gerard Baker in the Times), but went to law school on a scholarship. This kind of community service is both noble and enobling work for people of all ages, and is undertaken by outstanding citizens all over the country. It should be lauded and encouraged and even recommended to young people, and instead, in high-voltage campaign mode this evening, the Republican party literally spat on such service. Whatever the political arguments Republicans may have against the Obama campaign, this line of critique was both deeply disturbing and profoundly disappointing. I always try to moderate my tone as much as I can in political conversation, because I think it is a basic principle of civility that is being sadly and quickly lost in American political discourse and a grave threat to needed bipartisanship. But I found the Republican attacks on community organizing this evening to be morally outrageous. Thank you for considering my view David. I have enormous respect for your views and analysis.

    September 4, 2008 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  5. Hannah

    That speech and the convention tonight looked more like a bull-fighting arena than a convention of a major party in a civilized country! Since when is being a senator, fighting for the little guys that everyone else forgot about as a comminity organizer, mastering and teaching constitutional law at one of the top universities in our country, authoring a thoughtfully written book about the issues currently facing this country, and EARNING 18 MILLION votes minor accomplishments to be ridiculed?

    As far as I am concerened, Palin lost my respect with all that sarcasm that came from that sharp tongue of hers.

    New for the likes of Guiliani: Don't DARE question Obama's experience and readiness!!! He's got a strong group of people willing to do everything to put him in the white house so he can fight for REAL people!

    CNN: please post my comments.

    September 4, 2008 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  6. ABBY

    Therese I have to respectfully disagree with your comment. As a young democrat, trust me, we don't want leaders like Sarah Palin in our party. When is enough going to really be enough? Americans deserve better than this petty mud slinging and name calling. We are the greatest nation in the world and it would be a pity to let someone with her character think for a minute more that we would allow her the HONOR of representing us.
    Working to turn Colorado blue in '08!

    September 4, 2008 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  7. Drew

    Community organizing isn't what Palin is bashing. It's the fact that Obama says that gives him experience. What a joke Obama and Biden are turning out to be! MCCAIN/PALIN '08!

    September 4, 2008 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  8. KW

    Throw the tasteless, non-thoughtful, non-caring, run on lies and deceit because we have 8 horrible, bad economic years of GWB and Dick C. politics that they do not want to run on Republicans.

    September 4, 2008 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  9. cdemartin

    Sounds like another bitter politician, nasty, sarcastic, and snide do not make for good leaders especially in the volitile world we now live in where diplomacy and intelligence are absolute necessities.

    September 4, 2008 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  10. DEMOCRATS FOR PALIN

    LOVED it......she hit a home run tonight!

    September 4, 2008 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  11. JamesBond007

    I see a lot of outrage over this "community organizer" item. Believe me or not, I have been a community organizer for some time.

    I didn't see the speech, talking down to us community organizers, I saw the speech suggesting that such experience wouldn't make me qualified for President, which is a correct suggestion. I don't take offence to reality.

    Community organizer is a good experience, being a mayor is an even greater experience. Where were any of you to complain when Palin was being attacked on her credentials?

    The Republicans never once before the last day or two made mention of the community organization (something Obama brings up himself) . They attacked him of little executive or congressional experience but did not belittle his community background. But then the Democrats attacked Palin for being a small-mayor (Democrats like to forget she is a Governor). If you ask me, and I know many of you don't, the Democrats asked for it on this point.

    September 4, 2008 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  12. a.j.cornelese

    These shows hit the sentiment , not the brain. I keep pointing out that mrs Palin is aiming for a job as a top world leader. The entire world is watching this and is not amused by a woman shouting that she is a hocky mom with lipstick etc.
    The world is interested in people who can lead the USA wisely through a tougher time and lead the USA out of this warmongering mood .

    September 4, 2008 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  13. K, Florida

    I'm not so bothered with Obama being a community organizer as I am with his restlessness at any position he's held. I've always been taught, finish what you start. Obama doesn't seem to knowledge of that credo.

    September 4, 2008 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  14. yolanda

    Pa;in was soo ugly, very cold I hate when she smack her lips, with that disgusting look. Obama 08 She wasn't real. How dare she put communities organizing down, Obama has for years help the poorist people in Chicago, he has done many great service, that he should be very proud of.

    OBAMA 08

    September 4, 2008 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  15. kelly

    Talking about her experience of selling a jet on eBay explaining how she can be a good VP?! Yes, she delivered that she has no idea what a VP does!!

    September 4, 2008 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  16. DIXIE ANN TIETJE

    Palin shows that she is as sophomoric as they come. When she should speak and show intelligence, she resorts to base tactics often used by the bully on the school playground. I have seen this often, as a teacher. The bully who calls names and stirs up things with quips and sarcasm is the student with low intelligence and self esteem. She is not VP material, and will hurt our national image throughout the world.

    September 4, 2008 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  17. BJ Contee

    Not a great speech, filled with untruths, I don't think she's smart, enought to be VP. There was no substance in her speech, and I feel for her Daughter, however I'm glad that she has the husband hold the baby tonight.

    September 4, 2008 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  18. Sue from Texas

    If this is Palin showing us "a common touch with executive presence", I'll take the Community Organizer. At least he adresses the issues of the American public.

    September 4, 2008 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  19. mark

    This lady contradicts everything McCain has been talking about. McCain has said he wants to stay above mean spirited personal attacks, he has said that experience is the most important thing.

    Sara Palin represents the worst of what the right wing of this country has to offer...arrogant American elitism, cut throat (my way or the highway) tactics, and dirty politics.

    September 4, 2008 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  20. Therrian

    I would not vote McCain after I have listened to their speeches. Why anyone wants to have her as a VP. She is scary. She is very unprofessional.

    September 4, 2008 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  21. alan lemer

    unbelievable how people make comments that "she didn't write the speech".......every speech in both conventions ends up being a collaboration, but what a double standard for men and womn. senator obama reads a great speach and nobody questions whether we should listen and belive every inspiring word. the republicans now have an inspirational woman who delivers an incredible speech and we have people questioning every inspiring word. wow, what a double standard. i think palin will make biden look like the same old washington politician that he is.

    September 4, 2008 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  22. Kage1149

    One more word – Palin might do well to remember that when Hillary got shrill, negative and sarcastic she lost. When Hillary talked about jobs, the economy, and health care – she won.

    September 4, 2008 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  23. Pru McDonald

    I agree with everything these people here have said! Palin was VICIOUS, insulting and dishonest. I have seen that kind of woman in small towns, and despise that mentality and way of interacting with society.

    She is SCARY, and I can't wait until she has to face reporters and answer questions without a teleprompter and a speech written by others.

    Her lack of experience and her below-the-belt approach is nothing I would want to see in any woman, much less in a VP of the USA!
    John McCain is still a playboy at heart... "soul mate" indeed!

    September 4, 2008 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  24. Ida

    She gets an A on delivery of a Republican speechwriter's speech. However, while a good part of the speech was well delivered, a good part of it sounded like a "Swift Boat" commercial. What caught my attention most was the mocking of being a community organizer and a reckless mocking of preserving the planet..."after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet." David Gergen rated the speech an A. Compare to what other speech?

    September 4, 2008 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  25. Gary

    I can't believe that Wolf and the other commentators who have seen the world's greatest women and men over the years were falling over themselves with praise for Palin's performance. Were they overly influenced by the predictable reaction of those who surrounded them in the hall? A "home run"? A "grand slam"? I'm sure Palin is a fine person who means well, but her speech reminded me of nothing so much as an amateurish address by a high school junior running for student council. Has the bar been lowered that much? I for one am tired of American leaders who represent our lowest common denominator to us and to the world. I want to be inspired, and proud of our leaders. "President Palin"? This would be the makings of the plot of a bad mini-series, and a worse reality show for us all.

    September 4, 2008 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
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