22 October 2006

Sarah in Studio C

Almost immediately after hanging up on Tony Knowles on Friday, Sarah Palin strolled through KNOM's door and into Studio C for an interview. I won't bore you with the details of how difficult it was to set up, though it ended up being yet one more cause for grey hairs.

In any event, she comes off much better in person than she does either on TV or her coverage in the newspaper. By "comes off better," I mean that she is obviously a charismatic person who can charm her way through life. Like many others, I am sure, I was almost immediately captivated.

That changed once we started talking into a microphone. She read some of her answers from her notes (which I didn't realize was happening until mid-way through - she kind of kept them on her lap so it was tough for me to see given the setup of the studio) and for many of the rest she stared into the middle distance and it was as if I could see the wheels turning in her head as she tried to remember what she was supposed to say about a particular topic.

Later she spoke to the Chamber of Commerce and read a soporific 20-minute prepared speech. It was the first time I had ever seen any out-of-town guest read a prepared speech to the Chamber. Most of the time, people just start talking and taking questions. When she stopped talking, she immediately called on what must have been a plant. She introduced a gentleman who "came all the way from Wasilla" and asked him if he had anything to say. He threw her several softball questions, thus taking up most of the rest of the time, allowing time for only a couple of questions from the Nomeites in attendance. Not very impressive.

If I hadn't already, I finally realized her campaign is really just about change. Even though I continued to try to get her to admit that governing is about making decisions and some Alaskans are going to disagree with everyone decision she makes and so her pledge to "unite all Alaskans" is clearly one of the most vacuous things I've ever heard, she stuck to her talking points about bringing "positive change" and a "new generation of leadership" to Alaskans. Policy, for her campaign, I sense matters less than her maverick-this-is-not-politics-as-usual attitude.

Nothing she said made me want to vote for her. I want a candidate who can answer a question without looking at notes (if you've been campaigning for a year, you should be able to do better - plus, what happens when she's confronted with an issue for which there are no notes?) and who demonstrates a grasp of the issues. I don't want a polished and packaged candidate who's for change for change's sake.

That being said, she did come off better than I thought. It's hard for me to see how she is going to lose this campaign. In an anti-incumbent year, running against a former two-term governor, the charismatic, charming, and completely without depth candidate will win.

What's a Palin administration going to look like?

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