It’s the economy stupid! The famous words from Democratic political strategist James Carville flashed in my mind while Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave her speech. The McCain ticket is gambling big time that the trifecta: toughness, Iraq, and military service will pre-occupy voters mind. There’s something Reaganesque about the McCain approach too – it’s tried, true, and tired.
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Here we are in the 2nd millennium and the Republican National Convention is homogenous and monolithic—it lacked diversity. The cowboy stance of fighting terrorism isn’t currying favor with Americans or the rest of the world and Republicans couldn’t be more indifferent. The RNC permitted Guiliani the glib speaker to be a man of contradictions. In order to elevate Palin, he shot himself in the foot. In order to contrast Palin and Obama’s political upbringing, Guiliani chose the words cosmopolitan and flashy to describe Barack and Chicago since Palin is from a dull small-town of Wasila with a scant population less than 10,000. During his speech, one had to wonder what descriptive language Guiliani would have used to portray New York City in all of its glory? If Guiliani was supposed to be selling Palin, it was more akin to window shopping—ogling at the shiny merchandise from the window but never enticed to actually purchase. And if Palin was supposed to be selling the need for the McCain/Palin ticket, she demonstrated their ticket constitutes a want not a need.
The rhetoric might have felt good last night, but it is unclear what role if any Palin would play to ensure Americans feel this way for the next 4 years? Palin deliberately chose not to articulate any policy positions. The feel good mainstream references and false aphorisms she spoke will have to resonate with the rest of America and independents before the elections take place. The most celebrated mainstream axiom of all – “where’s the beef”— fittingly describes Palin’s speech. Palin touched on job creation vis-à-vis her position on energy, but the scope of her detail appeared esoteric to Alaska excluding the steel plant workers of Ohio or motor city assemblymen of Michigan.
It is unclear what direction McCain’s speech will take tonight. If he is trying to sell his patriotism, he doesn’t have too – Americans are aware that he is a decorated veteran. Although, he should wonder how patriotism will resonate with voters considering his Party dismissed his war record during the 2000 elections. And it was his Party that selected a candidate without a veteran record in the form of George W. Bush. And don’t forget it was his Party that trivialized the patriotism of another war hero’s candidacy for president. Indeed, Hillary was right last week when she declared – “McCain is more of the same” this is Bush III after all.
Ronnie Djoukeng is a Maryland blogger who can be found at her group blog, http://5andapossible.blogspot.com/ .