RNC: Red Meat Edition

Well that was better. If the “second” night of the Republican convention was dull, restrained, and melodic last night was a whirlwind of big names and attacks. Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani warmed the crowd up for Sarah Palin, and it was attack after blistering attack on Barack Obama all through the night. Fiorina called the Obama campaign sexist repeatedly in interviews with cable media. Mitt Romney assailed “Eastern elites” while Rudy deried “cosmopolitan” cities, both without a trace of irony of course, and Palin’s speech was effectively a series of one liners strung together to the tune of raucous applause from the Republican delegates.

It’s sort of hard to assess a night like this, because it’s fairly rare for a convention. Maybe it was cancelling night 1, but such a thorough 8-10 lineup of speakers is almost unheard of, and because of that a lot of what was said can get lost in the shuffle. With most of the focus on Palin and Rudy, Mitt Romney is getting very little attention, and Huckabeem Fiorina, and Whitman seem to have been forgotten about entirely. The lines of attack were similar between Rudy and Palin, but they were many, and far from being a relentless beating on a single attack narrative, it came off, to my partisan ear anyway, as being more along the lines of derisive, mocking, disdain, something that’s a little hard to make a coherent political message out of. THe community organizer riffs of the two headliners, in particular, came off as sort of weird, in the sense that I don’t really know what they were supposed to accomplish. Do Republican message makers think a large swath of America disdains the downright blue collar work of organizing groups politically? More over, isn’t it sort of weird for a room full of political activists, who are basically in effect community organizers, to be eating up attacks like that? It all smacked of an incoherent contempt. Maybe that will work, but it seems to me like they’re going to have to whittle it down into something more sustainable once the venue moves from convention to campaign.

As for Palin herself, I find myself mostly in agreement with th broader sentiment of the blogosphere this morning. She might have proved she can handle a crowd and give a set speech, but that was never really her problem. Her problem was in handling press conferences, interviews, and Joe Biden. Will she be able to demonstrate a command of a wide range of national issues? We don’t know, and the McCain campaign apparently doesn’t think so. Presenting the image of a “pitbull with lipstick” probably wasn’t the best way to introduce a female either, as the press will almost certainly allow for more leeway in attacking Palin by Democrats now. No one likes the person who can throw a punch, but complains when anyone fights back after all. And doubling down on a broad range of lies just invites further press scrutiny of her, and John McCain’s pattern of dishonesty as well.

So all in all, I think it was pretty much a microcosm of the McCain campaign. Extremely effective at grabbing the news cycle, but doing almost nothing to lay the groundwork for a coherent campaign leading up to election day.