I watched the speeches by Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain. Both were good, impressive in their own ways, but Palin’s was the better of the two. I think she has the ability to connect with "ordinary people" in ways that McCain (with his extraordinary biography) can’t.
Neither matches Obama’s soaring eloquence, but I don’t think they have to. Both McCain and Palin have a kind of authenticity about them. She comes across as a recognizeable and impressive middle class suburban type--I know them as swim team moms, and I like them.
McCain may not wear his religion on his sleeve, but he does his patriotism, in a powerful way. While it’s hard to think of him as humble, he can express himself in ways that makes it plausible. It’s a different kind of "communitarian" talk than Obama offers, and it may not resonate quite as well with bobos and their offspring, but you can’t hear the speech and not be moved by McCain’s presentation of his country as larger than himself.
I had the opportunity to chat with two groups of students about Gov. Palin’s speech. They are, for the most part, sold on Obama, and they’re not going to let go of their purchase. (I haven’t yet found a single argument against McCain that some of them aren’t prepared at least to make, if not necessarily to believe. The age issue looms large for them, and I don’t know if the evident vitality of Sen. McCain’s 96 year old mother will put it to rest. Of course, as far they they’re concerned, I’m old and pretty near death.) But back to Palin: the most interesting response came from some young women, who volunteered immediately and unconditionally that they liked her. Were she not "encumbered" by McCain and were they not sold on Obama, who knows? Others very much liked the extraordinary ordinariness of her family life. Again, not enough to push them off Obama....
I’ll be interested to see whether opinions change as the campaign progresses. I’m dubious, to say the least. Sen. Obama would have to betray them in an obvious and unmistakeable way--go bald? get wrinkles and love handles?--before they would throw him over.