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Originally published Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Danny Westneat

If speech is gauge, she's the real deal

Don't you think we made the right choice for the next vice president of the United States? So asked John McCain on Wednesday night. He got a full-throated...

Seattle Times staff columnist

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Don't you think we made the right choice for the next vice president of the United States?

So asked John McCain on Wednesday night. He got a full-throated roar in response, one that poured out of throats partly in approval of his choice, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and partly in defiant anger at how Republicans here feel she's been attacked.

I'd say if the job is based on that speech, then the answer is definitely yes.

Palin's appearance was so electric it was as if this convention hadn't started until she showed up. It was the first time the Republicans mustered up anywhere near the energy of the Democratic convention last week in Denver.

I liked her — despite all the tiresome culture-war derision she aimed at "elites." She deftly dealt with the family issues everyone's been chattering about. First by saying that her family's not perfect, then by bringing the whole crew, including the boyfriend, on stage afterward.

It was as if she was saying: You wanna talk about my family? Then say it to my family's face. Masterful.

There wasn't much policy substance to the speech, other than on energy issues, where she mostly said she wants to lay a lot of pipe and drill a lot of wells.

I even liked the way she went after the media. She did it with far more grace than many previous speakers. At times last night there was a visceral hostility in the hall toward the press — delegates pointing fingers at the rows of reporters and columnists (like me!), shaking their fists. But Palin managed to call out the media without sounding angry.

She's good. She's very good.

Of course, I still have a lot of annoying, elitist questions. Such as:

Does she really want creationism taught in public-school science classes? Why did she ask an Alaska librarian about banning books? What did she mean when she said the soldiers going to Iraq were on "a task that is from God"?

And what does she have against community organizers anyway?

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Maybe I can ask

her myself

A GOP source was confident — yet not so confident he was willing to be named — that Palin will be in the Seattle area Sept. 24 for a private fundraiser and possibly a public rally. That's a week before the first, and only, vice-presidential debate against Democrat Joe Biden.

Impetuous bipartisanship

To get a break from the nonstop talk about teen pregnancy around these parts, I went to a forum here titled: "How Would They Govern?"

Two senators, Republican Jon Kyl, of Arizona, and Democrat Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, speculated on how a McCain or Obama White House would function.

Surprisingly, they agreed that:

McCain is impetuous. A guerrilla. Acts on instinct. (See veep selection.)

Obama is methodical. A numbers guy. Follows a plan. (See primary campaign.)

Yet McCain plays well with Democrats — in fact seems to prefer it to mixing with his party. While Obama is more likely to try going over the heads of both parties and appeal directly to the people.

Kyl, the other senator from McCain's home state, offered this forecast of his friend: "With John McCain you know one thing for sure — it's going to turn out different than what you think."

Munro's moment

Ralph Munro — a delegate from Olympia, the former secretary of state and one of our state's all-around good people — has waited nearly 10 years for his John McCain moment.

Only to miss it.

He's been pining to help run a McCain campaign since 1999. But he says he had to beg off chairing this fall's statewide election drive.

That's because in October he's off to Ethiopia and Uganda, going "hut to hut" with other Rotary Club volunteers to vaccinate kids against polio.

It's his eighth year, and his stories — such as meeting "crawlers," people who can't walk and so live their entire lives on the ground — make politics seem small by comparison.

"We've almost got polio whipped in the Horn of Africa," he said. "Almost. That's why I've got to go."

Plus, he confessed: "This presidential race has narrowed down to about 14 states. And we're not one of them."

Danny Westneat's column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or dwestneat@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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About Danny Westneat
Danny Westneat takes an opinionated look at the Puget Sound region's news, people and politics. Send tips or comments to dwestneat@seattletimes.com. His column runs Wednesday and Sunday.
dwestneat@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2086

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