Palin Problems:

I think David Post is engaging in more than a bit of wishful thinking in his post below. We know he's not a Palin fan, was never a potential McCain supporter, and doesn't exactly have his finger on the pulse of contemporary conservative thinking. There's not "something of a drumbeat building" for a Palin withdrawal (at least not yet). Some conservatives were down on Palin from the beginning, so it should be no surprise that a stray columnist or two — even one who had her article posted on NRO — thinks Palin should pull out after her poor (and occasionally painful) interview performances.

For a better sense of mainstream conservative thinking about Palin right now, I'd point to this Kathryn Lopez column on NRO, which expresses concerns about Gov. Palin, but is not yet ready to throw her overboard. Here is how she concludes:

I'm not where my friend Kathleen Parker is — wanting her to step aside to spend more time with her family and Alaska — but that's not a crazy suggestion. She's right to say that something's gotta change.

My guess — based on nothing but hope for a change — is that Sarah Palin just needs some freedom. I don't know who is holding her back but if John McCain wants to win this thing it had better not be him and his staff. When I watch these interviews, I see a woman who looks like she's stayed up all night studying and is trying to remember the jurisprudential chronology of privacy vis-a-vis reproduction, the war on terror, and public figures (add 12 more things, described in the most complicated way possible, to the list to be more accurate). She looks like a woman who's been cramming talking points and great Matt Scully lines and Mark Salter-McCain war stories and Steve Schmidt marching orders into her head since that first plane ride from Alaska. She looks like a woman who has ceased being the confident, successful executive who got herself elected governor of Alaska without the full force of her party behind her and managed to have an approval rating of which most can't even dream.

This seems wholly unnecessary. People love Sarah Palin when they see her. When she's firing at full force, she comes off as authentic, self-possessed, and ready for a fight. If that is Sarah Palin, that's the Sarah Palin who should be talking to everyone she can. . . .

If Sarah Palin is John McCain's secret weapon, let her go, whoever is holding her back. And, frankly, if it turns out that the "authentic" Palin of rallies and the Republican convention is just good speech delivery in a woman with some good spirit, I want to know that sooner rather than later. (Mitt's still available. Someone in Washington who can actually run a business and knows something about the economy will come in handy once the federal government owns the U.S. banking system.) But if the Palin we know and love and have projected our hopes for sanity in American politics is the real Sarah Palin — then come out from the shadows, woman. You're the one who is going to win this election. Be yourself. Otherwise, what's the point?

Interestingly, K-Lo's recommendations are quite similar to those offered by Bill Kristol this morning.
McCain needs to liberate his running mate from the former Bush aides brought in to handle her — aides who seem to have succeeded in importing to the Palin campaign the trademark defensive crouch of the Bush White House. McCain picked Sarah Palin in part because she's a talented politician and communicator. He needs to free her to use her political talents and to communicate in her own voice. . . .

That debate is important. McCain took a risk in choosing Palin. If she does poorly, it will reflect badly on his judgment. If she does well, it will be a shot in the arm for his campaign.

I think this is right. This year's vice-presidential debate will matter far more than most, largely due to lingering questions about Palin. But I also believe that a strong Palin performance will put these concerns to rest among those for whom this matters (i.e. those who, unlike David, might vote for McCain), and reinforce the meme that the mainstream press is out to get her (and help elect Obama). Selectively edited TV interviews will not have the same force as an unedited debate.

As for what will happen, Kristol reports Senator McCain is unhappy with how the McCain has been handling her, and is demanding changes. Byron York also has this interesting post.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming (and try to keep the comments civil).

UPDATE: In the comments below, David objects to my claim that he "was never a potential McCain supporter," explaining that and might have supported McCain given a different vice presidential choice. He writes:

I was a (strong) supporter of McCain's during the Republican primaries, and I was genuinely delighted that he won the nomination; I actually had not decided for whom to vote in the general election until the Palin nomination, which I believed, and still believe, was an irresponsible, outrageous, and unpatriotic act on McCain's part.
I based my characterization of his views based on his disclosure in this post that he was "not voting" for McCain. I took this to mean that David had decided to not support McCain prior to the Palin decision.

As for myself, I am still somewhat undecided -- both about whom I will support come November and what to make of Gov. Palin. Her Couric interview performance was atrocious, but I've seen plenty of other interviews (and debate performances) that give a very different impression. I also know several people who have found her quite impressive in person. So, at this point, while objecting to anti-Palin arguments I find unfounded and unpersuasive -- and noting that many of the attacks on her are equally applicable to Senator Obama and others -- I'm withholding my final judgment about her and the GOP ticket.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Palin Problems:
  2. Palin to Withdraw!