early and often

Sarah Palin Hurts So Good

The first week of media coverage hadn’t been favorable for Sarah Palin — inexperience, secession from the union, and pregnant, unwed teenage daughters weren’t quite the themes the campaign was hoping for. Fortunately for her, that shaky introduction set drastically low expectations. But last night, Palin actually wowed many across the political spectrum. As Chris Rovzar wrote earlier, the speech was partisan, combative, and snide, and so it’s unclear whether it’ll appeal to swing voters. But it certainly managed to put conservatives at ease with her selection, and is forcing liberals to acknowledge that Palin will be a real force to contend with.

• Joe Klein says she “delivered a brilliant speech.” While “there was not much substance” and “her description of Obama’s policies, particularly his tax policies, was quite inaccurate,” she was still “a very effective messenger for the perennial Republican themes of low taxes and strong defense.” [Swampland/Time]

• Ezra Klein calls it “an auspicious debut”: “She landed clean punches, temporarily silenced some of her critics, and retold John McCain’s story with a keen sense for the drama of his experience.” But it was “curiously hollow as an enduring campaign argument” and “said nothing about the presidency she hopes to be part of.” [American Prospect]

• Gail Collins thinks the “speech was very well done” and “way more effective than the keynote speaker, Rudy Giuliani, at the red-meat-tossing detail.” [NYT]

• The Washington Post editorial board contends the speech was “well-delivered, with an appealing combination of charm and bite.” [WP]

• John Fund writes that after her speech, Democrats probably won’t be able to rely on an “enthusiasm edge” anymore. [WSJ]

• Tom Shales says Palin’s “use of sarcasm was, it must be admitted, crudely effective.” [WP]

• Rick Lowry calls the speech “unbelievable” (in a good way), but if he has one “quibble,” it’s that “there were a few too many sarcastic jibes about Obama.” [Corner/National Review]

• Mark Hemingway thinks that “her sarcasm won’t be received poorly at all by the vast majority of America.” Instead, the “perception will be that she earned the right to hit back.” [Corner/National Review]

• Michelle Cottle is unsurprised that “Palin proved herself a heckuva speaker,” even if there was nothing “noteworthy” in the substance of the speech. Palin may be a “political lightweight” but she’s “a charming lightweight.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Ari Melber admits Palin gave a “riveting and devastating nomination speech,” but also “misrepresented [Obama’s] record and simply lied about her own, claiming to oppose earmarks that she supported.” [Notion/Nation]

• John B. Judis believes the speech was “very effective” and probably will appeal to “the downscale Perot voters, who were more male than female and who were very anti-Washington and who would not care about questions of experience.” [Stump/New Republic]

• Steve Benen thinks Palin proved she’s “fully prepared … to be the head of the Republican National Committee” and “can step up on Day One … to guest host for Rush Limbaugh.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Matthew Yglesias doesn’t think the speech was anything more than “competent,” and didn’t either “separate McCain from George W. Bush or convince people that McCain can improve the economy.” [Think Progress]

• Dahlia Lithwick calls it “a great speech” delivered “almost perfectly.” All the “smears were delivered with a megawatt smile,” something Hillary Clinton wasn’t able to do. [XX Factor/Slate]

• Josh Marshall wonders, “Is Sarah Palin really comparing herself to Harry Truman since he only served as vice president for a few months?” [TPM]

• Michael Crowley’s liberal friends are “panicking,” and Crowley himself admits “she’s a far better messenger than an angry white man,” even if her attacks were “over the top” at times. [Stump/New Republic]

• Ed Morrissey thinks Palin proved “to the condescending media and her Democratic critics that she is no pushover, no cream puff.” [Hot Air]

• Kevin Drum doesn’t “think this speech will stop the questions about her selection, but it’s certainly going to have an impact,” as Palin made “a tough, smart, and very appealing first impression.” [Mother Jones]

• Shannen Coffin contends that “Palin’s style is so much more everyday American [than Obama’s] and thus likely to connect with people who don’t want to be inspired but simply reassured that their government will be in good hands.” [Corner/National Review]

• Chuck Todd and friends say “[c]onservatives have found their Obama,” a “future star of the party.” One questionable part of her speech is how “her tough sarcastic words for Obama” play with swing voters. [First Read/MSNBC]

• Rosa Brooks think the speech was “unbelievably vicious” and nasty, “all about rage, sarcasm, resentment, mockery.” [XX Factor/Slate]

Related: Giuliani Softens Up Democrats for Powerhouse Palin

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Sarah Palin Hurts So Good