She staked out a populist stance against oil companies and projected a fresh, down-to-earth face at a time when voters wanted change....Actually, that sounds bad. Based on the headline -- "Past Debates Show a Confident Palin, at Times Fluent but Often Vague" -- I was going to accuse the NYT of trying to raise expectations of Palin so that she wouldn't be able to impress us by just showing up and minimally standing her ground. But the text of the article -- by Katharine Q. Seelye -- doesn't deserve that accusation.
Her debating style was rarely confrontational, and she appeared confident....
But just as she does now, Ms. Palin often spoke in generalities and showed scant aptitude for developing arguments beyond a talking point or two. Her sentences were distinguished by their repetition of words, by the use of the phrase “here in Alaska” and for gaps. On paper, her sentences would have been difficult to diagram.
John Bitney, the policy director for her campaign for governor and the main person who helped prepare her for debates, said her repetition of words was “her way of running down the clock as her mind searches for where she wants to go.”
These tendencies could fuzz her meaning and lead her into linguistic cul-de-sacs. She often used less than her allotted time and ended her answers abruptly.
When questioned about the nuts and bolts of governing, Ms. Palin tended to avoid specifics and instead fell back on her core values: a broadly conservative philosophy and a can-do spirit.
October 1, 2008
The NYT has a front-page piece telling us that, based on her old Alaskan political debates, Sarah Palin is perhaps not all that bad: