XX Factor bloggers take readers' questions about the Republican vice-presidential nominee and her speech.
"XX Factor" bloggers Ann Hulbert, Rachael Larimore, and Emily Yoffe were online at Washingtonpost.com to chat about Sarah Palin and her speech at the Republican Convention. An unedited transcript of the chat follows.
Navy Yard: Children with Down's syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of Palin's time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child. Did neither she nor McCain consider these issues?
Emily Yoffe: This is such an interesting issue. Do male candidates get asked such questions? On the other hand, I don't think it's off limits, either. I felt John Edwards shouldn't have continued his presidential campaign after Elizabeth had a recurrence of her cancer because of the age of their children (turns out he should have dropped out for other reasons). The thing about running for vice president it that she basically has to say goodbye to her family until early November. Then, win or lose, she's going to have a lot more free time. In fact being vice president might mean more free time than being governor.
St. Louis: I was torn between McCain and Obama, until McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his VP. I too am pro-life, but I am also pro-parenting as too many "heroic" couples choose to have children that are raised by hired help or the television.
And yes, I know that a woman with five children CAN be the VP, my concern for her family is SHOULD she pursue such a position in light of recent revelations. All things lawful, aren't prudent (that's biblical scripture). Besides, I don't believe that my concern for what's best for her family should outweigh HER concern for her family or MINE.
I love my family and sadly I haven't heard anything from McCain/Palin that would improved the average American's life in the future! There are difficult days ahead and I want McCain/Palin to speak about their plans to improve the national/international issues that affect all American Families not just more hooplah about Gov. Palin's.
I'm already sick of hearing about her family, what about MINE! And please MEDIA, don't take it easy on Palin because she's a hockey mom. As a self-proclaimed pitbull with lipstick, she should know that if you rumble with the Big Dogs you should EXPECT to get bit.
Although I believe ONE day with more national/international experience Mrs. Palin could be prove to be a great political leader, TODAY is not that day. McCain should have chosen the best VP pick with the wellbeing of the American people in mind. Instead he chose a good puppet for his own political gain. I'm sad to say he almost had my vote.
Ann Hulbert: You're not the only one to have balked at what looks like political cynicism in the choice of Palin by McCain, who proclaims he puts the country ahead of political calculation. A recent poll showed more women considering Obama's choice to have been motivated by concern about qualifications than felt that way about the Palin pick. Some prominent Republican commentators expressed dismay, too, at the brazenness of the political ploy. But it certainly seems to have paid off in energizing the Republican base! You make an interesting point about how the focus on Palin's own family has overshadowed much talk of what, exactly, she'd do for other families-or of the differences of life for families like hers in Alaska, and in the rest of the country. But there are still plenty of days left in the campaign.
Columbia, Md.: Governor Palin's speech last night was first rate. Who wrote it?
Emily Yoffe: My understanding is the main speech writer was Matthew Scully, a former George W. Bush speechwriter—who wrote an interesting piece in the Atlantic last year about the speech writing business.
I agree, it was tremendously well written and superbly delivered. Listening to the other speakers made you realize being able to give a speech well is not a talent everyone possesses.
Princeton, NJ: On the previous chat, Paul Kane said: "I don't think having a 17-year-old pregnant daughter makes her a hypocrite." It's not having the pregnant daughter that makes her a hypocrite, it's all the pious statements about morality, about waiting until marriage, and about only funding abstinence programs. It's Dan Quayle damming Murphy Brown. It's statements about her daughter's "choice" when she wants to deny others "choice." It's saying you are "pro-life" when study after study shows that making abortions illegal does not reduce the abortion rate, it just kills more woman who have to get back-alley abortions. It's refusing to support measures that do reduce abortions, like condoms, birth control, sex education and Planned Parenthood. That's where the hypocrisy lies.
Emily Yoffe: It was striking that Sarah Palin did not mention abortion in the speech last night—since her pro life credentials are one of her major selling points to McCain and being pro-choice knocked off a bunch of other candidates. Several commentators mentioned that this clearly was a ploy to appeal to Hillary's rural voters and not to the base.
I agree, Princeton, that you have nicely addressed the hypocrisy of her position.
Question of Gender: Do you suspect Palin was chosen not just because of her gender, but also because of her pro-life stance? Peggy Noonan probably realizes that Kay Bailey Hutchison wasn't chosen for the VP spot because Hutchison is pro-choice. This would also rule out Olympia Snowe, Christine Todd Whitman, and probably Condoleezza Rice.
Ann Hulbert: It certainly seems as though the choice of Palin was motivated as much by a desire to mobilize evangelical Christian voters as to lure undecided women. That's a constituency that had been notably unenthusiastic—downright hostile, in fact—and had made it clear they wanted a signal of McCain's commitment to their family values agenda. It seems to have worked: James Dobson on Focus on the Family promptly reversed his vow never to support McCain.
Rachael Larimore: I agree with Ann. Palin was the rare candidate who can energize the more conservative segment of the base as well as possibly appeal to women who were alienated by Hillary.
I think we're seeing that the latter gamble is not paying off. I feel women on the left might be resentful that Palin hasn't worked as hard as Hillary to get where she is, because she didn't plan for this her whole life. But as we saw in the speech last night, the base is surely energized.
Malvern, PA: I thought Palin's speech last night was perfection for the people in the room and for some segment of voters.
Given the jolt of energy she seems to have sparked (and the potential flood of money that could follow as a result), do you think the McCain campaign will come to regret taking federal funding?
Rachael Larimore: On a personal level, McCain might regret taking the federal funding, but I don't think there's anything he can say outwardly. He criticized Obama for not taking it, and let's remember that he is the same McCain of McCain-Feingold fame. People would howl if the author of campaign-finance reform opted out of a system he had committed himself to.
Ann Hulbert is Slate's literary editor. Rachael Larimore is Slate's copy chief. Emily Yoffe writes Slate's "Dear Prudence" and "Human Guinea Pig" columns.