Let Sarah be Sarah?
When I first learned of John McCain's VP pick I had mixed emotions. I already knew something of Alaska's governor, and admired what I'd heard, but also feared that her rookie status might pose a problem for a ticket that valued "experience."
The first thing I did was to Google all her appearances I could find, including interviews on network television and debates from the gubernatorial contest. In all cases, I found her to be thoughtful, intelligent, and self-confident.
I was somewhat reassured, but still felt a bit on edge prior to her speech at the Republican National Convention. Two minutes into the speech, however, and I just sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed.
But now what's happened? Her latest media appearances have been absolute abortions, and are totally out of character with the "Sarah Palin that I knew (™ Obama.)"
What happened? I guess some of it may be the star high school quarterback who chokes on the big game, when the stakes are high and all the recruiters are watching. But the RNC speech was a homerun (to mix a metaphor), so I don't think that's entirely it.
Rather, I think she's been overcoached. I think the McCain campaign, sensitive to criticism that she may be lacking on foreign policy, drilled her mercilessly, cramming her head full of figures and angles, and training her to always bring the dialog back to the touchstones of memorized talking points and pat rote answers.
In fact, I don't think it, I know it. You can all but see the gears spinning as she's asking herself "How can I bring this back to one of the half dozen points I was trained to focus on?"
That's a damn pity. Sarah Palin was chosen specifically to compensate for some of John McCain's shortcomings, so why all the effort to turn her into John McCain?
Count me squarely in the "Let Sarah be Sarah!" camp. I'd love to get back that spunky, intelligent, self-assured, first-term governor. I'd like to see her be herself and let the chips fall where they may. If she gaffes, she gaffes, but so what? Biden does it every time he opens his mouth.
Sadly, though, I'm not sure this kind of overcoaching can easily be put back in the box. It's one thing to say "Okay, we've changed our minds, just be yourself, " but it's another to actually be able to do it.
Ah well. We'll see. Thursday night.