To many people, Sarah Palin seems a non-threatening figure. She reminds one of Marge Gunderson, the likable pregnant cop from Fargo, at least, if Gunderson were played by Tina Fey.
Beneath this exterior is a dangerous ideologue. Sarah Palin has the same scary christianity that Mike Huckabee, if not to his right. But while Huckabee was likable even as he was scary, Sarah Palin
is far, far from likable. Her speech at the RNC is the case in point. Though not particularly clever , her tone was curdled and nasty, not just toward Barack Obama, but toward the whole idea of making a difference in one's community. Hendrik Hertzberg commented on the speech this way.
Like almost every major speech at that Convention (Mike Huckabee’s being an exception), it substituted sarcasm for humor in its sneers at Obama. “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities,” she said. “Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights,” she said, a little chillingly. “Listening to him speak, it’s easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or even a reform, not even in the state senate,” she said. This last was simply false; Obama’s legislative record, both in Illinois and (given its brevity) in Washington, is impressive. (Also, it’s McCain whose books have been “authored.” Obama wrote his.) But the speech was well crafted and more than competently delivered, with even its most mean-spirited lines accompanied by perky smiles and wrinklings of the nose. McCain’s gamble, though shockingly irresponsible as an act of potential governance, is, for now, a political success: Palin attracted close to forty million television viewers, the crowd in the hall went wild for her, and a Rasmussen poll taken immediately afterward showed her with higher “positives” than any of the three men on the national tickets.
So, for now American's like the Alaska governor, but hopefully in time they will see the same small, mean little woman already apparent to so many of us.