Sarah Palin’s speech last night was a smashing success. It was viewed by 37 million people, which is slightly less than the 40 million who watched Obama’s speech, but is greater than the number who saw the Olympics and the final episode of American Idol. According to NBC Nightly News, the McCain campaign raised $8 million after Governor Palin’s address.
On the Today Show, Joe Biden raised expectations by saying that she’ll be tough to beat in a debate, but that he’ll try his best to get a word in edgewise and challenge her on the issues. This guy’s not that good at pretending. He thinks he’s going to cream her, but he’s trying to raise expectations. Plus, when has Joe Biden had problems getting a word in edgewise?
Governor Palin is going to have some challenges ahead of her. Joe Biden knows various nuances of public policy, and Sarah Palin will have to be ready with specific ways to answer his charges. I noticed last night that she retained her line of “I said thanks but no thanks to the Bridge to Nowhere.” This is after numerous news reports stated that she initially favored it, but changed her mind after the federal government didn’t fork a lot of the bill. She will have to explain this, as well as recite her record as someone who’s trying to wean Alaska off of earmarks.
Taxes will be another issue. Last night, Sarah Palin stated the following:
“Taxes are too high…he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan, and let me be specific. The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes…raise payroll taxes…raise investment income taxes…raise the death tax…raise business taxes…and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars. My sister Heather and her husband have just built a service station that’s now opened for business – like millions of others who run small businesses. How are they going to be any better off if taxes go up? Or maybe you’re trying to keep your job at a plant in Michigan or Ohio…or create jobs with clean coal from Pennsylvania or West Virginia…or keep a small farm in the family right here in Minnesota. How are you going to be better off if our opponent adds a massive tax burden to the American economy? Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election.”
Many of us know how the Democrats will respond: Barack Obama wants to cut taxes for the middle class (those making under $250,000 a year). Joe Biden said this morning that Palin’s sister Heather will not be hurt under the Democratic plan, which only goes after the very rich. Sarah Palin will have to demonstrate that the Democratic plan negatively affects Americans from the middle class, not only the wealthy. And she should also argue that soaking the rich doesn’t help the rest of the country.
She’ll need to become more like Dick Cheney. I remember the Vice-Presidential debate in 2000. George Bush came across as a dunce in his debate with Gore the night before–as someone with not much of a grasp on detail. But, at the Vice-Presidential debate, Cheney really shined! Joe Lieberman argued that Gore wanted to cut taxes, and here is some of what Cheney said in response:
“We have the highest level of taxation now we’ve had since World War II. The average American family is paying about 40% in federal, state and local taxes…We want to make certain that the American people have the ability to keep more of what they earn and then they can get to decide how to spend it. The proposal we have from Al Gore, basically, doesn’t do that. It in effect lays out some 29 separate tax credits. If you live your life the way they want you to live your life, if you behave in a certain way, you qualify for a tax credit and at that point you get some relief. Bottom line, though, is 50 million American taxpayers out there get no advantages at all out of the Gore tax proposal, whereas under the Bush plan everybody who pays taxes will get tax relief” (see here).
Here, Cheney points out two things: (1.) that high taxes hurt the average American family, not just the very rich, and (2.) where the Democratic “tax credits” fail to cut the mustard. The McCain campaign can use a strategy of repeating “the Democrats want to raise taxes” over and over. Or they can demonstrate why the Republican policy on taxes is better than that of the Democrats.
I’m not sure how Sarah Palin will do under fire. She is a tough Governor, and that’s a plus in her favor. But, as far as her interaction with the media goes, my impression is that she’s not yet been grilled with tough questions. I hope that she either has a grasp of detail, or that she will get it in the coming days, before she battles Joe Biden and the hostile liberal media.