I'm going to go out on a limb here and do something I try really hard to never do, make a prediction. Sarah Palin is the nail in the McCain campaign's coffin. No Vice-Presidential nominee--not Vice-President--can be this much drama. Constantly defending old girl's record, having to expend resources to shut down investigations in Alaska, and having to actively shield her from reporters has to exact a price. At the very least it knocks Joe Biden's gaffes right off the radar.
We talked some a few weeks back about the problems of running a media-centered strategy. I believed then, and believe now, that McCain's "win the news-cycle" strategy is playing with fire in a house of straw. I know there is a school of thought that prizes "drama," "heat," and "sizzle" as assets for organizations trying to compete. Those people should be fired and banished to soup kitchens. Invariably they work in media ("journalists." clucking heads, PR people etc.) and thus their ideology is self-serving. Palinpalooza is case in point. For weeks we heard this ridiculous line of argument that Palin brought the same "excitement" and "energy" to the table as Obama, thus equalizing the race. That is exactly the sort of fatal underestimation that is going to get John McCain murked in November.
Obama isn't Obama because he is more "exciting" or had me more "heat" or "energy." He's Obama because his handlers had a deft understanding of caucus rules, because they understood the promise of the Dean/Trippi internet strategy, because they understood the ground game. Fuck all the rhetorical flourishes, all the talk of "exotic" lineage, all Ivy League pedigree, all the hoary meditation on the impact of a black president. It's all bullshit. If Obama doesn't hang eleven straight on Team Clinton in February then we'd all be talking about the dream of Susan B. Anthony. If Hillary Clinton's people understood the rules the way Obama's people did, then McCain would be running ads attacking The Restoration.
The point is that Palin brings "excitement" and "energy" but nothing else. It's all hot-sauce but no catfish. And now the jig is up. I've been pretty harsh in my criticism of the press. But some of these cats are, in the words of Bunk, good police. And even those who aren't, at least, like to look like it. McCain is basically backing these dudes into the corner and daring them to do their job. Bad idea, kid. Very. Bad. Idea.
UPDATE: Thanks for the corrections, guys.
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