Keeping the faith *UPDATED*

I did something kind of special today:  I went to a big fundraiser and heard Sarah Palin speak before a relatively small audience (1,200 of her closest friends in Northern California).  There are definitely perks to being a political volunteer.

I had a wonderful time, too.  I got to check people in, and everybody was so very happy to be there.  If things were a little wrong with the contents of their envelope (tickets, name tags, etc), they were so cheerful about it, just because they felt that they were in a special place, at a special time.

Once my volunteer stint finished, I was able to go into the large ballroom, pull up a chair, have a lovely brunch, and listen to Sarah Palin speak.  She didn’t say anything you haven’t already heard:  she spoke about her accomplishments, about John McCain’s accomplishments, about cleaning house in Washington, and about Obama’s association with Bill Ayers.  She gave a funny apology for the Couric interview, saying that the fault was hers, because she wanted to talk about substance, and Couric kept asking her insubstantial questions that frustrated her.

It’s always interesting to see in person someone you’ve only seen on TV, especially someone you’ve seen only in two settings:  before hostile interviewers or before tens of thousands of adoring fans.  In the more “intimate” setting of an approving, well-informed audience of 1,200, she was a true star.  Her rhythm is just great.  She knows how to time things, and she makes the whole speech sound very personal.

Palin had no teleprompter, just some notes in front of her, to which she referred occasionally.  She sounded very conversational and, the more conversational she sounded, the more charming she got.  Everyone sitting there (and everyone reading this post) knows and admires a woman just like her.  These women work with you, they carpool with you, they hang out at your kids sports with you, they’re at the bus stop, and sometimes you just socialize with them:  they’re funny, warm, incredibly competent, well-organized, attractive without being threatening.  It’s of these women that you always hear other women say “I’d hate her if she wasn’t so nice”  — with “hate” being the operative term for, “I’m incredibly jealous of this woman who makes me look lazy and incompetent,” but she’s just too delightful not to enjoy.

Watching Sarah, and feeling the enthusiasm and warmth in the room, made me realize that there is still hope for this campaign.  McCain has been declared politically dead over and over in the past two years, and he keeps coming back.  He’s a warrior, not some weenie guy who slinks away in the night.  And William Kristol reminds us that, in the waning days of the most bizarre campaign in American history, despair is our enemy (emphasis mine):

The odds are against John McCain and Sarah Palin winning this election. It’s not easy to make up a 6-point deficit in the last four weeks. But it can be done.

Look at history. The Gore-Lieberman ticket gained about 6 points in the final two weeks of the 2000 campaign. Ford-Dole came back more than 20 points in less than two months in the fall of 1976. Both tickets were from the party holding the White House, and both were running against inexperienced, and arguably risky, opponents.

What’s more, this year’s race has already–twice–moved by more than 6 points over a span of only a few weeks. The race went from McCain up 2 (these are the Real Clear Politics averages) on September 14 to Obama plus 6 on October 2, less than three weeks later. In the four weeks before that, the race had moved from Obama plus 5 on August 12 to McCain plus 2 on September 12.

So while there’s reason for McCain-Palin supporters to worry, there’s no reason to despair.

Despair is what the Obama campaign is hoping and working for. If a campaign can convince supporters of the other candidate that the race is effectively over, the enthusiasm and volunteer efforts drop off–as does, ultimately, their turnout on Election Day. Just as important, undecided and loosely affiliated voters become persuaded there’s no real contest and lose any incentive to look closely at the candidates. This explains the efforts of the Obama campaign–aided by a colluding media–to sell the notion that the race is over, that McCain supporters should give up, and undecided voters should tune out.

Don’t despair. It’s not over ’til it’s over. Obama is worse than we thought, and McCain is better than we often give him credit for being. And Sarah is a great politician, with a wonderful future no matter what happens. All is not lost.

UPDATEA post from another blogger who was there and felt that same enthusiasm, with a bit more substance, too, than my impressionistic post.

UPDATE II:  Despite the enthusiasm, Melanie Morgan (who was there too) says that some of the movers and shakers want McCain to get off his derriere and do some moving and shaking of his own — and Palin did promise that he would.

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  • Oldflyer

    Lucky you.

    I am really glad to hear that she seems as authentic in person as she does on the tube.

    You are right. I know at least a couple of women like her. My daughters. (Not political though) I have told them that when I look at her I visualize them, and yet one is indifferent at best, and the other expresses active dislike. I guess after 50 years of marriage and raising two girls, it is too late to think I might one day understand women. I don’t know a single man whom I care to associate with who doesn’t love and admire her.

  • 11B40


    “she spoke about her accomplishments”

    During the VP debate, I was fantasizing about Senator Biden bringing up his 30+ years in the US Senate and Governor Palin responding “that’s a long time bewtween promotions.”

  • Helen Losse

    RE: “Everyone sitting there (and everyone reading this post) knows and admires a woman just like her. These women work with you, they carpool with you, they hang out at your kids sports with you, they’re at the bus stop, and sometimes you just socialize with them: they’re funny, warm, incredibly competent, well-organized, attractive without being threatening.”

    Bookworm, I believe you. I’ve said it before, this woman would make a great president for anybody’s PTA. She just isn’t VP material. Nobody had even heard of her until about a week before the Republican convention. She’s cutesy, throwing kisses to the crowd and winking and flirting. That’s fine for the little stuff, but to represent our country we need more than a nice flirt.

  • Mike Devx

    Ah, I wouldn’t despair even if Obama wins the election.
    – Obama may just be ambitious enough to want to govern effectively, and move toward the center.
    – If Obama stays toward the left, and the Democrat Congress lurches to the left too, then I can guarantee you, based solely on basic economic theory, that four years later, things will be dire indeed across the country. In 2012, then, if the Republican Party is ready to return to basic conservative principles of limited government and the importance of every American Individual being free and responsible, we’ll have a good shot.

    Sometimes Americans have an impulse to embrace the collective, place their trust in a Great Leader (almost always on the Left), and oppress us all with a Statist solution to the problem, which inevitably collapses into disaster. So even in the negative scenario, as long as we’ve been preparing the ground, 2012, or even worse, 2016, America can be ready to return from yet another failed collectivist experiment.

    So never despair. Even if this year is bad, there’s too much work ahead! And heck, don’t forget that even this year’s election cycle is not over! It’s all written in sand at this point, and it’s not over.

    Some things to watch for over the next month:
    – Voters revisiting their current preference as election day looms
    – Will he or won’t he? Will McCain go after Obama and the Dems with his heart and soul dedicated to the effort, for the entire remaining month? If McCain stays bipartisan while Obama and the Dems continue their savage attacks, well…

  • Deana

    Helen –

    Let me get this straight: you think that Sarah Palin, who is the GOVERNOR of a U.S. state, would be fine if we were looking for a decent PTA president????

    I guess that means Obama, who was only a U.S. senator for 143 days prior to starting his run for the presidency, would be fine if we were just looking for a decent “community organizer.”

    Please stop belittling what she has achieved. Unlike Obama, she has a provable track record. We can look at the State of Alaska or the city of Wasilla and compare what their situation was before she took over to what things looked like after she was in office and see actual improvements that are directly due to her efforts.

    Who cares that she doesn’t have some fancy education from Columbia or Harvard? I don’t. In fact, I like her MORE because of that. I’m have it up to my eyeballs with all of this fascination and adulation of these smooth-talking people with mile-long degree chains. They’re a dime a dozen and worth even less.


  • Deana

    One other thing, Helen –

    You say that no one had ever heard of Palin before she was nominated.

    This is something that struck me immediately following her nomination – most people who are familiar with conservative blogs and/or publications would have included Palin in the top 10 possible VP candidates prior to McCain’s announcement. Along with Pawlenty, Cantor, and the amazing Bobby Jindal, Palin has been on many people’s radar for national office.

    And that is what is so weird to me about Obama and his campaign. They were completely knocked off balance for a while after her nomination. They clearly were unaware of her, even though she had been profiled in conservative and Republican sources – Bill Kristol even talked about her being a good VP candidate on television.

    Helen, that does not bode well for an Obama presidency. Their clear surprise and stumbling made them look unprepared. And that is a concern – I mean, if they are completely surprised about something as simple as his main opponent’s vice president pick, what is going to happen when he is facing a real opponent, like Putin, Ahmadinejad, and others, who aren’t going to be quite as willing to announce their intentions in blogs, publications, and TV?


  • jlibson

    I’m jealous!

    Of you!

    I would have loved to see Ms. Palin! Of course the exigencies of 4 kids (and a lack of an invite) make that a pipe dream. But a pleasant pipe dream :)

    I am thrilled to hear that she is still great in person.

    Helen: please read Deana’s posts once from me too. :)

    Deana: well said!

  • Al

    Hi BW,
    I too am jealous. But thanks for the analysis. It’s only what I would expect.
    Deana’s comments about the Obama campaign’s faltering after Palin appeared are spot on. Obama does not have sufficient knowledge of the landscape. Any landscape. Political, economic,international, take your pick. Said failing stands in stark contrast with the way McCain finessed his way to the nomination. That speaks of a broad knowledge base. McCain can win. If he really starts swinging. And we can all tell him that with this week’s donation to the campaign.

  • Quisp

    Color me jealous, too.
    And Helen – if your local PTA president is capable of achieving agreement on a multi-million dollar pipeline that’s been stymied for more than three decades and creating the largest construction project in US history – well, you must have a helluva school district.

  • BrianE

    As Deanna said, conservatives were aware of Palin long before she was picked. In a perfect world, she would have served a term and we would be looking at her in 2012.
    But in a perfect world, the Democrats would have picked Hillary and we would be looking at Barack in 2012 (assuming the country became disenchanted with Frau Clinton) and he would have had a chance to establish a record in the Senate.
    Unless your saying it would have been harder to elect an experienced FEMALE senator than a MALE community organizer.

  • Ymarsakar

    Don’t despair. It’s not over ’til it’s over.

    I remember the MSM trying to pull states for Kerry, like Ohio, before all the votes were in. Ya think they were trying to tell the Ohio voters that the election was already over, when in fact it was still neck to neck?

  • Ymarsakar

    She’s cutesy, throwing kisses to the crowd and winking and flirting. That’s fine for the little stuff, but to represent our country we need more than a nice flirt.

    Executive level experience is a field apart from any kind of Senate debate, committee actions, or small town grass roots organizing.

    Executive level experience, leadership, is unique whether you are making decisions that alter the lives of two people in Wasilla or 500 people in a battalion or 10,000 people in a division or 5 million in a city.

    On this level, neither Joe Biden, John McCain, or Obama can even compare.

  • Ymarsakar

    I know you probably don’t read Blackfive, Helen, but you should check out this podcast of Uncle Jimbo anyways where the point I raised was brought up.

    These are combat leaders, Helen. Do you know what that means when they say Sarah has the goods even more than McCain?


  • suek

    Helen is unlikely to read Blackfive. And her reaction points up something…the sex angle. It’s weird and I’m not sure of my thoughts on this, but it’s something to the effect that Blackfive is a military venue. Very male. Liberals intensely dislike the military. Sarah is very feminine – very female. We’ve all seen the “feminist” response – pretty similar to Helen’s.

    There’s something in the liberal mindset that wants to eliminate or deny that there’s any difference between the sexes. Not particularly anything to do with _equality_ of ability, but the difference itself. It seems to me to be related to the magnification of sexual pleasure, but at the same time, the minimization of reproduction. Increased focus on the “me”, decreased focus on the “us” factor of sex.

    As I said…I haven’t thought this out, but it just seems so odd that women should be so negative about Sarah’s flirtatiousness. It could be just simple jealousy – and comparison to Hillary who has passed the point where flirtatious is attractive – but I think it’s something else. Maybe the intellectual component? Sex is so _physical_…”we liberals are intellectual, not physical”? Denial of our physical nature? At the same time admitting it as an itch that needs to be scratched, so let’s just get it done and move on? “pure” love??

    I don’t know. But the reaction to Sarah is so _strong_!! What’s to account for it?

  • ConnectTheDots

    We saw McCain & Palin in Columbus last Monday, and they are the same in person as their television personalities. The excitement among voters for Palin is really incredible. People waited in line for two hours or longer, stretching around 3-4 blocks, to get in to see the rally, then stood for three hours before and during the event. (I suspect they didn’t provide chairs so everyone would be ‘on their feet’ for the media.)

    I think the Leftmedia surveys and polls are being manipulated, if not outright manufactured, to show Hussein/Hairplugs in the lead, just to get the mindless ‘vote for a winner’ crowd on their candidates’ side.

    Firsthand experience tells me that many, many people are more excited about the GOP ticket than the MSM is willing to admit. I was a cool supporter of McCain before he picked Sara’Cuda, but I am firmly in his camp now. What’s not to like about the lady? She’s pure class.

    But she reminds me of my mother. Don’t cross her, or you’ll get a whipping you’ll never forget.

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  • Zhombre

    Wanna see cutesy? Click on the link below. Politicians kissing babies: a trick so old it’s new. But that fact seems to go over the head of the vacuous Obama acolyte at this blog.