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A Fresh Face

Newt Gingrich’s emails are better than most people’s books. This one capture what Republicans hope is going on:

There is something unaffected and “unsophisticated” (in the Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and University of Chicago meanings of the word) about Governor Palin. She really was point guard of a state championship basketball team. She really is a competent hunter. She is a hockey mom. She has one son about to go to Iraq. She has 13 years in elected office. By any practical standard she has done far more in the real world with much more spontaneity and practicality than Barack Obama. And there is something deeply real and courageous about John McCain ignoring most of his advisers and all of the “insider wisdom” to reach out to a younger woman whose greatest characteristic is undaunted courage and a willingness to clean out the corruption in her own party.

.  .  .

As I wandered around from a family restaurant to the dry cleaners to a variety of other non-political places, people kept walking up to me and talking with energy and enthusiasm about their reaction to McCain’s choice of Governor Palin. As I sifted through their emotions and the intensity of their reaction it hit me that they were responding to “the real thing.” The power of Palin is that she is so out of the establishment, and so out of the talking-heads, inside-the –Beltway-elite mindset, that the 80 per cent of Americans who believe we are on the wrong track suddenly can identify with someone who isn’t part of what got us on that track.

Read the whole thing. More than once.

But there is something else going on here: Barack Obama isn’t new anymore. One reason for all the columns, fireworks and rock music was to make Obama seem more distinctive and groundbreaking than the substance of the speech would have otherwise led us to believe.

But before everyone could absorb the Denver show, the campaign took an unexpected turn. In a single day, everyone moved on to someone who really is new and about whom the public is anxious to learn more. The fact that Palin is so obviously non-elite in her background, upbringing, geography and outlook only makes her seem that much fresher. We don’t see people like her, especially Republican woman, on the national stage.

The danger with conflating celebrity and candidacy is that someone new and more exciting may come along. On Friday, she did.



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