Palin delivered an excellent speech tonight, there is no doubt the woman can communicate. Very frankly, however, Obama delivered an effective speech last week also. John McCain cannot speak as well as Obama, so I understand the choice of Palin even more now. If the presidency is won on the basis of oratory skills, Obama has it in the bag.
Although American culture is characterized by shallowness and despite the passionate zeal Hollywood and the media are applying to get Obama elected, this election will not be decided on the basis of speaking skills. The candidate's stand on abortion, gay marriage, or other "culture war" issues won't be the basis for victory either. While fighting terrorism will be an important topic continually raised for the next two months, it will be seen in relationship to the ultimate deciding factor in the current race for President.
Palin's speech tonight made me believe that John McCain might actually come from behind and win the election. On what basis do I say this? Americans vote based on their wallets.
The election of Bill Clinton in 1992 following a Bush 41 recession and again 1996 were primarily based on the perception that his leadership was good for the economy. Debating what actually caused the "economic boom" of the 90's isn't my point here, but it proved the way Americans usually vote- based on their wallets. Now, in 2008, there is a clear perception the economy is in the toilet. George Bush gets most of the blame, however the Democrat controlled "do nothing" congress has not escaped the gaze of the American public sporting the worst approval rating in American History.
Understandably Obama will do his best to tie McCain to Bush economic practices and policies. This will certainly delight and solidify Obama devotees, but a large number of those who fault Bush's economic plan will see Obama's tax and spend medicine as worse than the disease. The next 60 days will feature rhetoric flying between Obama and McCain about how they each propose to stimulate the economy and bring the deficit under control, etc. etc. Immediately in view, however, there is one chief area that every American is being squeezed- at the gas pump. High gas prices affect every area of our lives and everyone knows and feels it. By and large Americans vote based on their wallets. The candidate who can convince the American public he will lower fuel/energy prices will win.
Now, because of Sarah Palin, John McCain has the edge in this area.
Palin knows fuel and energy issues in a very nuts and bolts sort of way. She's not some nerdy theorist sitting in an engineer's office four states removed, she strikes as a "get'r done", no-nonsense foreman pressuring the crew to get the drills going. When Obama and McCain talk about energy solutions they come off a little like Al Gore hypocrites who have been chauffeured everywhere they go and haven't filled up their own car with gas in years. When Palin speaks about energy matters, she comes off as someone who wants to quit groveling for oil at the feet of some Middle Eastern sultan, will fight for more American jobs and accomplish providing cheaper gas so she can cart her kids to hockey practice.
Americans vote based on their wallets and the inflated, unpredictable price of gas is messing American family budgets way up. My monthly gas bill is a full 30% higher than it was one year ago. Sorry Barack but developing alternative fuel sources is no immediate solution. Further, I'm not driving some lawn-mower sized "hybrid" Toyota just because it leaves less of an "environmental footprint". I'm no economist, but it's pretty obvious the price of gas will stay $3.65 (or more) per gallon until the market is stabilized with an influx of American oil. Watch how fast the Saudis lower their prices when they see we don't need them anymore- Economics 101.
Sure, alternative sources need to be developed for the next generation, but right now we need immediate production of more energy. Since Americans vote based on their wallets, at this point no reasonable person could think Obama-Biden have a better solution or credentials for our immediate gas price dilemma than McCain-Palin. Many people think Palin was chosen because she is a pro-life evangelical. I'm starting to think she was chosen because she is a credible force in the area of immediate concern- gas prices (our pocket books). Did you notice her speech was devoid sharp focus on the various "culture war" issues? Instead she spent a considerable amount of time talking about specific actions needed to solve the energy crisis and even went so far as to say a McCain/Palin administration would start laying pipe in January! Laying pipe means cheaper gas to most listeners. They obviously know something important about how to win an election- Americans vote based on their wallets.