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Palin on Defense

Sarah Palin gave an extensive interview to Sean Hannity. The questions weren’t aggressive, but she demonstrated an ability to convey her ticket’s message better than anyone else, including, quite frankly, John McCain. She had this to say on the economy:

I believe that the narrative has finally changed. There’s been more revelation there about what Barack Obama’s true intentions will be. He spoke plainly, finally, to Joe the plumber. He said yes, he wants to spread the wealth. And to Joe the plumber that sounded like socialism. And Joe speaks for a lot of Americans, who hear some suggestion in there that taking more from our small businesses and from our individual families and then spreading their hard-working money around, according to a politician’s priorities, that certainly would kill the entrepreneurial spirit that helped build this country, made it the greatest country on earth. I’ve got a problem with it, and a lot of Americans are gravely concerned about that plan that Barack Obama has with his tax cut, he calls it. Really, it’s a tax credit. Really, it is, just spreading the wealth. There’s a problem with that.

Palin on Joe the VP’s blunder:

And it wasn’t just Biden making that comment. That was confirmed by former secretary Madeleine Albright, where she said yes, she believes that Biden was just stating fact. Now I don’t want a president who invites that kind of testing. We cannot afford that on the homeland. So, that’s a very discouraging to hear, Barack Obama’s only running mate proclaiming that, that Barack Obama would be inviting an international crisis that would adversely effect this country, is what he was saying there. What that statement did was confirm what Barack Obama had been referred to by Joe Biden throughout the primaries and in their debates. Remember, that he was untested and wasn’t ready for the presidency. Joe Biden has said he would be honored to run with John McCain as his running mate on his ticket and that way the country would be better off.

On Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers, she doesn’t mince words:

I feel strongly about these associations, that it’s fair game to discuss them. In fact, even Barack Obama had to admit that it was fair game. He challenged John McCain to speak on the issue of Ayers in the debate. And McCain took him up on it, thankfully. But the issue, too, about the judgment and the trustworthiness also and the candidness, it’s fair game. And you see what I go through and what John McCain goes through when we do bring up the associations.

But perhaps the most telling part of the interview was on the infamous wardrobe issue. She gives a remarkably straightforward response, one which no one in McCain camp could manage in two days to get out in defense of their own VP candidate:

First, the RNC spending money on clothes. Those clothes are not my property. We had three days of using clothes that the RNC purchased. If people knew how Todd and I and our kids shop so frugally. My favorite shop is a consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska, called Out of the Closet. And my shoe store is called Shoe Fly in Juneau, Alaska.

You have to wonder what is going through the minds of campaign advisors who let their candidate twist in the wind for days on this. Are they all job hunting already? Have they so lost perspective that they can no longer assess when their silence is feeding, rather than quieting a story? Perhaps the vaunted team which botched her introduction to the national stage has figured out that their futures don’t rest with any potential Palin ticket. (So let her explain it herself, right?)

But aside from that intrigue, what comes across in the interview is a candidate who has learned to be a candidate. Those who hold up interview skills as the definitive test of a candidate forget that a smart, attractive politician can master it in a matter of weeks. She certainly has. One thing is for certain: she’s learned through this campaign how dangerous it is waiting until the last minute to tell the voters your message, hiding from or screaming at the media, and failing to take control of your own image. If she chooses to run again for national office, I doubt she’ll repeat those errors.

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