Friday, September 05, 2008

Tropes, Indeed....

Leave it to David Brooks. Commenting on McCain's choice of Palin, he laments,
Parts of the press pack elevated Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. A controversy over human reproduction brought back the old culture wars and the mommy wars. Battle lines formed, as in the days of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, and everyone took their pre-assigned roles.

Millions declared themselves qualified to judge her a bad mother, while others held her up as the model of evangelical virtue. And, of course, the whole thing became enmeshed in the clichés of red-blue: the supposed conflict between the condescending media elites and the gun-owning trailer trash, between abortion-rights urban women with one kid and anti-abortion rural women with five.
It's quite caricature, but seems quite removed from what actually happened. From there, Brooks quickly devolves into vapidity
The convention thus sat on a knife-edge. And then Palin walked onstage. She gave a tough vice presidential speech, with maybe a few more jabs than necessary. Still it was stupendous to see a young woman emerge from nowhere to give a smart and assertive speech.

And what was most impressive was her speech’s freshness. Her words flowed directly from her life experience, her poise and mannerisms from her town and its conversations. She left behind most of the standard tropes of Republican rhetoric (compare her text to the others) and skated over abortion and the social issues. There wasn’t even any tired, old Reagan nostalgia.
Brooks is pretending she wrote the speech? We know better, and so does Brooks.
Can voters this year be sure they learned something about the real Sarah Palin from her GOP vice presidential nomination acceptance speech last night, considering news that it was originally written by speechwriter Matthew Scully over a week ago for an unknown male nominee? The commissioned draft was subsequently customized by Palin and a team of McCain staffers in the 48 hours leading up to its presentation.
Draw whatever lesson you want from the personal elements interposed into the template, or from the quality of the delivery, but let's ground our praise in reality. For the most part, her words flowed from directly the pen of a professional speechwriter who didn't even know who she was when he wrote them. They had to be careful about incorporating too many "standard tropes" because, as Brooks acknowledges, the speech might have been delivered by Joe Lieberman.

Brooks' interpretation of her performance?
Instead, her language resonated more of supermarket aisle than the megachurch pulpit.
Say what? The grocery aisle? Has any pundit ever penned such a line about a male candidate, let alone in a column that laments the supposedly unfair and sexist treatment of the candidate by the press?

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