My God, the Right Has Low Standards

Here is Peter Robinson’s explanation for why Sarah Palin “is no Dan Quayle” (emphasis mine):

Look, I, too, would be a lot happier if Palin were in her second term as governor, not her first, and if she came from a populous major state, such as, say, Texas, instead of from Alaska. But whereas Dan Quayle never actually did anything for Bush, Sarah Palin has helped McCain in two important ways: She has cut short the attention the press would otherwise have lavished on Obama all weekend, limiting Obama’s bounce. This has solved McCain’s most immediate tactical problem. And she has thrilled the GOP’s conservative base, which can now in good conscience give itself to the McCain candidacy with enthusiasm—not feigned enthusiasm, real enthusiasm—for the first time since the senator entered the race. This has solved McCain’s worst strategic problem.

We’ll learn over the next few days how well Gov. Palin stands up to the pressures of a national campaign—her speech at the convention on Wednesday will prove critical. But whereas the very best that could be said of Dan Quayle is that he didn’t harm Bush’s candidacy all that much, the very least that can be said of Sarah Palin is that she has already put McCain closer to the White House.

Neither one of those are examples of Palin doing anything. She didn’t nominate herself. McCain snapped the media’s collective heads around from Obama’s stunning speech to focus on Palin. All she did was be there. And if she’s “thrilled the conservative base” (because she is against legal abortion), that’s not something she proactively did, either. Presumably, that’s one of the reasons McCain picked her.

So Robinson is praising Palin for passive non-actions — not for anything she has proactively said or done in the short time since McCain announced her as his choice for vice-president. That’s quite a statement about her abilities — and about Robinson’s yardstick for accomplishment.

And by the way, if Palin’s speech today is any indication of her rhetorical talents, I hope Robinson isn’t expecting too much from her speech at the convention. McCain might have taken the media’s attention away from Obama’s speech, but he couldn’t erase the memory of it from the minds of the 38 million Americans who saw it. Palin’s wooden, robotic nomination acceptance speech today would have been deathly boring under the best of circumstances. Coming less than 24 hours after Obama, it was laughably pathetic.

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