Convention surfer: Republican convention, day 3

Alaska Gov. and Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin delivered a sharp, snarky speech at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night. Copyrighted AP photo by Susan Walsh. Below: Mitt Romney’s speech was carried on CNN and MSNBC, but not Fox. AP photo by Ron Edmonds.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told us she “is not a member in good standing of the Washington elite,” last night. But in virtually the same breath, the presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee showed she had learned a time-honored Republican tactic: Blame the media.

“Here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators,” Palin said.
“I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I’m going to
Washington to serve the people of this country,”

She was hardly alone yesterday, as an anti-media sentiment swept through the Republican National Convention, mostly fueled by a perception Palin was being unfairly pilloried by the press, and colored coverage of the event.

That led to numerous reminders from members of the media that presumptive Republican Presidential nominee John McCain once called the media, “my base,” and enjoyed glowing press coverage. Chris Matthews on MSNBC and Anderson Cooper on CNN both advocated that the media has simply been doing its job in researching the background of the Alaska Governor, who few knew before Friday and by many accounts had been lightly vetted by the McCain campaign before being named to the ticket. Tom Brokaw in particular went on a spirited monologue before the action got started Tuesday trying to marginalize the anti-media stance as an old saw.

“It has
worked particularly well I think for the Republican Party,” Brokaw said. “They
always feel that this country is held captive or held hostage, if you
will, by what they would call the eastern liberal press establishment . . . So I think we`re going to see
this pattern throughout. It`s been going on for a long, long time. In
1964, it was probably the apotheosis of this at the Goldwater
Convention when John Chancellor was let off the floor and had that
memorable line “John Chancellor reporting from somewhere in custody.”
We’re grown ups. We’ll have to deal with all this.

think it`s important for our audience to know that what we have been
reflecting here in the last 24 hours or so is what we have been hearing
and not just from Democrats. A lot of Republicans, members of the
establishments, even members of John McCain`s most ardent supporters
are raising questions about Sarah Palin.”

If you think it’s an old saw and attacking people for doing their jobs, you probably liked the brush back from Brokaw & Co.

If you think the media are in the tank for Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama and unfairly savaging Palin, you had to love the Governor’s speech as she commanded a national audience for the first time tossing out conservative red meat with a wink and a smile. She was at ease in front of a crowd and showed passion and good ol’ snark that indicated she may be like Tina Fey in more than just looks.

She also showed why she was really brought onto the ticket: excitement. It is highly doubtful any of the men on McCain’s presumed short list would have excited the crowd as much as Palin, and you have to wonder if the guy at the top of this ticket will. It will be interesting to see what ratings are like Wednesday night compared to Thursday night, because many people undoubtedly tuned in last night to get a first look at — to borrow the Mother Tongue‘s nickname for Palin — “The Thrilla from Wassila.”

No dead air: Once again, while the Democrats left wide swaths of time between speeches last week, the Republicans packed the evening tightly together, particularly at 10, when the broadcast networks signed on. Gov. Palin strode on stage just seconds after former Presidential candidate and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani strode off, giving the talking heads little time to dissect his fiery speech before Palin started her historic address.

Off the air:
This was really interesting. Last night, CNN and MSNBC, two of the networks the Republicans have been throwing stones at, were showing the speeches by former Presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and lesser-known figures in the Republican party in full while Fox News, the Republican network, stayed on The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes. The latter show even had Barack Obama’s communications director Robert Gibbs on delivering a spirited critique of the Republican convention thus far, while Romney was speaking. Weird.

Romney’s speech was roundly criticized, even by Republicans. After Romney’s rant about how liberal Washington was, David Gergen, former adviser to three Republican Presidents and President Clinton, asked what decade Romney thought this was, pointing out Republicans have been in the White House eight years and controlled congress six of the last eight years. On Charlie Rose, New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks called Romney’s speech, “borderline insane.”

Carter country?: CNN kept throwing its broacast to Anchorage, Alaska, and Palin’s sister Heather Bruce and brother-in-law Kurt. The location of the interview: The Peanut Farm Restaurant. How 1976.

Or just country?: Palin’s speech was followed by country stars Cowboy Troy, John Rich and Gretchen Wilson delivering a combination of the Star-Spangled Banner and the pledge of allegiance followed by Rich performing his campaign anthem Raisin’ McCain.

Cute kids, RNC style:
The Obamas had their video family moment last week. Wednesday night, it was 6-year-old Piper Palin’s moment in the spotlight as she cradled her baby brother Trig in one arm and licked her palm to wet down Trig’s hair with the other hand while mom spoke on stage. (Photo, right: McCain talks to Piper Palin while Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, holds Trig. AP photo by Ron Edmonds.)

The Daily Show: Wednesday’s Daily Show still had that “liberal salon” vibe, as Brian Williams described it on Tuesday, but there was a genuine Republician in the guest chair. Newt Gingrich joined Jon Stewart for a spirited discussion about Sarah Palin and abortion legislation. The second segment of the show featured a typically brilliant clip package, followed by a very amusing Gingrich response.

Three days: The Republican National Convention was delayed by events beyond anyone’s control, but it advances an interesting idea: chopping the conventions back by a day. Here we are, only two days into this, and we’ve already had the veep speech and we’re heading to the grand finale tonight. The Democrats ended on a high note last week, but that four days was a haul. The World Series only demands three straight weeknights. After the Olympics and the conventions, I’m going to bed at 10 p.m. every night next week.

Top 40 pundit: We don’t usually tune in The Cat (WLKT FM-104.5) for political analysis, but Dave of the Dave and Jimmy show summed up one campaign controversy pretty nicely this morning. Talking about the “experience” argument between Palin, a half term governor, and Obama, a two-third term senator, Dave said neither candidate, “needs to be pimping the experience argument.”

Barack is back: Some Democrats may be wondering when Obama will have a chance to respond to all the GOP love. It will actually be Thursday night at 8 p.m., when Obama enters Bill O’Reilly’s “No spin zone” on Fox, where they seem to love their Democrats.

Don’t forget to check out dispatches from Kentucky delegates to the RNC at PolWatchers.

Merlene Davis blogs on Bristol Palin, and you can discuss Sarah Palin at Bluegrass Moms.

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