The Corner

The Media Strategy and Palin’s Underperformance

A few more thoughts on Palin’s underperformance so far in media interviews.  Yes, I think the McCain team has pursued a bad strategy for her, relying mostly on the broadcast networks, with an incomprehensible leaning toward the last-place network, CBS.  But there is also the problem of Palin’s underperformance.

I say underperformance because I’m working on a piece for the magazine about Palin’s governing style in Alaska.  Guess what?  She does what governors do.  In her time in office, she has been deeply involved in not just the gas pipeline and other energy issues but the entire range of state government matters.  There is education, health and social services, public safety, transportation, ethics — the whole spectrum.  Palin has been more engaged in some issues than in others, but she has had a pretty wide experience in her relatively short time in office (read, for example, her 2008 State of the State address) and is conversant in all of them.

So why has she done so badly in her two broadcast interviews?  One reason is her failure to draw on her own experience.  For example, when ABC’s Charles Gibson brought up cost controls for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, she appeared to know little about the issue.  Yet everyone knows, to take one example, that governors have been complaining long and loud about the burdens imposed on states by the federal government’s reimbursement policies on Medicaid.  Palin has had to deal with that in Alaska — I talked with her budget director about it yesterday.  And yet Palin said nothing about her own experience. The same was true for education and a bunch of other issues.  Oddly, the area in which she did bring up her Alaska experience was in foreign affairs — Alaskans can see Russia — when it wasn’t at all relevant to the question at hand.

What do governors do when they run for president?  They talk about what they’ve done in Texas, or what they’ve done in Arkansas, or what they’ve done in California.  It’s the way they make the case to voters that they not only have executive experience but experience dealing with some — certainly not all — of the issues they will face as president.  Governor Palin could cite her own experience much more.  Why she hasn’t, at least so far, is a mystery.

Byron York is a former White House correspondent for National Review.

Most Popular

Elections

The First Debate Showed Why Biden Will Win

Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton, and that will be enough to win him the election this November. This much has been clear since Super Tuesday this year during the Democratic primaries. In 2016, Hillary split several very important states with Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, and those she won, she won without ... Read More
Elections

The First Debate Showed Why Biden Will Win

Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton, and that will be enough to win him the election this November. This much has been clear since Super Tuesday this year during the Democratic primaries. In 2016, Hillary split several very important states with Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, and those she won, she won without ... Read More
Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

The Debate Dumpster Fire

On the menu today: You know what we’re talking about today -- that Godforsaken festival of incoherent crosstalk that was allegedly a presidential debate. It Figures That a Dumpster Fire of a Year Like This Would Bring Us a ‘Debate’ Like This Last night, I thought the first presidential debate of the ... Read More
Elections

The Jerry Springer Debate

It’s a shame that Joe Biden couldn’t attend Tuesday night's debate. Okay, Biden was in attendance, but during the 90 minutes, it felt like he barely ever finished a complete sentence. It’s not clear that President Trump necessarily won the night, in the sense that people who were leaning against ... Read More
Elections

The Jerry Springer Debate

It’s a shame that Joe Biden couldn’t attend Tuesday night's debate. Okay, Biden was in attendance, but during the 90 minutes, it felt like he barely ever finished a complete sentence. It’s not clear that President Trump necessarily won the night, in the sense that people who were leaning against ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More
Elections

Trump Did Himself No Favors

The debate was a remarkable example of the fact that Donald Trump, the most self-serving man in America, doesn’t know how to do himself any favors. For the first ten or twelve minutes of the debate, he was walking away with it — Trumpy, sure, but in control and surprisingly reasonable-sounding. If he had ... Read More
Elections

Everybody Loses, Which Helps Biden

Reactions to tonight's debate will likely be deeply polarized, as everything else is. There are a few things that are clear. One, this was probably the worst presidential debate in American history. There was a ton of cross-talk and shouting down, there were many bald-faced lies and obvious evasions, a former ... Read More
Elections

Everybody Loses, Which Helps Biden

Reactions to tonight's debate will likely be deeply polarized, as everything else is. There are a few things that are clear. One, this was probably the worst presidential debate in American history. There was a ton of cross-talk and shouting down, there were many bald-faced lies and obvious evasions, a former ... Read More

Chaos in Cleveland

The 90 minutes of “debate” between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden cannot be told as a cohesive story, or reduced to a few bottom lines. It was too fast and too disorganized. Almost anyone watching would have just picked up impressions along the way. I’ve grouped mine into piles ... Read More

Chaos in Cleveland

The 90 minutes of “debate” between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden cannot be told as a cohesive story, or reduced to a few bottom lines. It was too fast and too disorganized. Almost anyone watching would have just picked up impressions along the way. I’ve grouped mine into piles ... Read More