I’m not much on convention speeches; I don’t care for the cheers and applause with nearly every line that prevent the development of a real argument and stifle genuine eloquence and rhetoric, and they lose a lot on TV. Usually I can’t stand to watch any of them, even by the people I like. I went to San Francisco to watch the Democratic convention in 1984, and it is very different to be in the hall live than watch on TV; Mario Cuomo’s famous keynote was a marvel to behold in person. In print in the paper the next day, not so much. Hasn’t been the same for me since trying to watch these things on TV.
That said, Palin was utterly compelling. She conveyed one thing above all through her facial bearing: you can see by her set jaw and occasional flashes of gritted teeth (but within a dominant smile throughout--remember Churchill saying that he likes people who grin when they fight) that she is one determined lady, not about to be put in her place by the braying hounds of the media. I think this may have come across better through the closeup TV shots than in person. (Reagan enjoyed this advantage, too; he was often better on TV than in person, in my opinion.)
I flipped around to see the crazies on MSNBC and the drones on CNN, and it was obvious that the usual gang of pecksniffs had to work hard to find a plausible way to ding the speech, and pretty much didn’t even try. Of course she will still have to prove herself in the day to day rough and tumble of the campaign trail, and she might even have to endure Meet the Press, but I got the sense that she is more than ready for it and that her attitude is--Bring it on!
Byron York famously said several months ago after watching Obama in person that, to borrow Chief Brodie’s famous line from Jaws, the Republicans "are going to need a bigger boat." I think they found one.