Sunday, September 07, 2008

What's all the excitement about? Comparing Obama and Palin

I watched Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Back way before much of anyone had heard of the state senator from Illinois.

I thought to myself "That guy can really deliver a speech. The Democrats may have a future political heavyweight, there."

I'm no Democrat, of course. And I knew nothing about Obama when he gave that speech apart from the way he presented himself. I was reminded of my reaction now that I've begun to read reactions to Sarah Palin that question why anyone would be enthusiastic about her given how little is known about her.

What could account for an apparent outrage that voters show enthusiasm for a relative political newcomer, albeit one tabbed for the post of vice president?

The media have been positive to a point. Reviews of Palin's speech before the RNC were relatively glowing. I'll draw a parallel to that reaction with my response to Obama's initial appearance on the national stage.

I note that the averse reactions I've read come from biased sources. They attack Palin for her inexperience and short track record--exactly the same type of complaint that would naturally be made of Obama. What accounts for the disparity?

I think both political figures serve as empty slates for biased Democrats owing to their short political histories.

Obama capitalized on his inexperience by painting himself in the blandest colors and strokes. Voters saw in him what they wanted in a political candidate. Ambiguities in his speeches received charitable interpretations from various leftist/progressive angles. Obama also took up the ever-popular mantle of the Washington outsider/reformer (the mantle is far more popular than the work of reform, needless to say).

Palin also remains something of a blank slate at present, aside from her built-in pro-life credentials by virtue of her Down's syndrome baby, Trig. From what little is known of Palin, progressives fill in the unknown picture of Palin with the nightmare counterpart of their rosy view of the unknown Obama.

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