In my customary “late to the party” way, I didn’t get around to watching GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin’s interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson until this morning. My take: All right…but could stand some improvement. Especially since the avuncular ABC newsman is hardly what I’d call the hardest hitting of interviewers.
(By the way, the rules I imposed on myself this morning were that I would only watch the interview once—more or less as most viewers would experience it—and I tried to avoid reading other commentary on Palin’s performance before writing this, though I did glance at the front of the Drudge Report and at the Arkansas Times. This will shock you, but our friend Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times thought it was horrible. I just did not see that coming.)
So how to achieve that improvement? Simple: Practice. Palin needs to be doing more of these interviews to refine her ability to thrust and parry more effectively. (Again, she did well enough, but needs to be sharper).
One presumes she’s already doing “murder boards” and briefings with campaign staffers and such. Here’s my free advice: Skip the smarmy and expensive media consultants—and recruit former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for a couple of coaching sessions.
The thing is, Palin’s a natural, with a background in professional media and a native political instinct—as is Huckabee. He’s already run through the gantlet of working with the national media, and Palin’s having to negotiate that same path now, but in a severely compressed time frame.
Plus, the quick-on-his-feet Huckabee is extraordinarily skilled at using a wider range of rhetorical tools, such as charm, humor and anecdotes, to disarm interviewers. I suspect Palin could make equally effective use of such strategies. (I recognize that for Huckabee to do this, it would take away from the time he dedicates to his band. That’s a price I’m willing to pay.)
So put these two together, keep her doing more interviews and watch her shine. Oh, and skip “Meet the Press” and all those other pompous Sunday morning shows. No one watches that snoozefest.
Update: A fair-minded assessment from Blake Rutherford over at The Think Tank; Tim Griffin at the Griffin Room gives Palin a “B+” for performance; and in this blog’s comments section on an earlier post, Dan Greenberg faces off against the Arkansas Project’s liberal-leaning arch-nemesis, the diabolical Professor Smithpeters, on the whole “war with Russia” thing, along with follow-up comments from the Arkansas community of foreign policy experts, which I didn’t know existed until I wrote this sentence.