We usually write about issues but, as Rick Davis wants it, issues were beside the point of tonight's speeches. If Republicans were the party of fear in 2004, tonight they became the party of sneer.
Sarah Palin has the knack of delivering strong shots with a light touch, and Rudy Giuliani's nasty speech made even her strongest lines seem a little gentler. Bob Dole would seem gentle after Giuliani. But Palin's speech was laced with inaccuracies.
She riffed on how Barack Obama wants to raise taxes. Never mind that Obama would cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. Never mind that Palin herself raised taxes as a mayor and a governor. The best part was when Palin said that Obama wants to "raise the death tax." But McCain also wants to raise the death tax compared to the zero rate scheduled for 2010. Never mind!
Palin laid out a positive agenda only on energy issues, her area of expertise. She's a passionate and effective advocate for the new Republican catchphrase: "drill, baby, drill!" (It was funny to hear Giuliani play with that one, a paraphrase from the Watts riots.) Unlike many candidates with thin resumes, though, she made no attempt to display a broad range of substantive knowledge.
When Palin was chosen, many pundits assumed that she would attempt to win over women who supported Hillary Clinton. But her speech tonight made no effort to reach those voters. She skipped the line acknowledging Clinton that appeared in her earlier speeches. She said nothing about the economy that has so many working women worried.
No doubt, Palin came across well to many listeners, and her speech rallied the Xcel Energy Center crowd. But it's less clear that the convention's negative tone will wear well over the coming weeks.
--Robert Gordon and James Kvaal