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Palin's Speech Was Fine. But What's The Goal Here?

Just about every liberal I know thinks that Sarah Palin unleashed a terrifyingly effective speech tonight. I'm not convinced. It was a solid red-meat speech, sure, and she was smart to take up the attack-dog role: It will create a fresh storyline, and it was light years better than having her weakly protest that she is too ready to lead. And, yes, she lied about opposing the "Bridge to Nowhere," but maybe she thinks the press won't call her on it. (Certainly this speech won't stop the swarms of reporters digging into her past, but nothing she could've said would've done that.) Did she look presidential? The whole thing looked like one big surreal circus to me, but I'm biased and not a median undecided voter in Ohio or wherever, so I'll beg off on that one.

The main problem for the Republicans, I think, is the overall message: The McCain campaign is gambling that they can pull off a dramatic reversal here and hop on the "change" bandwagon—as a friend points out, they're essentially rehashing Hillary Clinton's strategy from the Democratic primary: Palin's attacking Obama for offering nothing more than empty speeches while claiming that she's the real agent of change. But that didn't work for Hillary Clinton, and I have a hard time seeing it work for McCain, who still has the Bush albatross around his neck and a far less compelling economic message to work with.

--Bradford Plumer

Related: More from TNR on Sarah Palin's Big Convention Speech