“’Ex-Congressman J.D. Hayworth should immediately apologize and and take down his latest online ad, which is an outrageous offense to John McCain’s lifetime of honorable service to our state and nation, and insulting to Native Americans here in Arizona and across America,’ said Shiree Verdone, McCain’s campaign manager.”
Sarah Palin. There has been little talk of anything else for the past week. If only to mute the buzz of the Obama campaign, which has clearly dominated the airwaves in the previous months, she has been a huge success. Last Friday morning, the talk was supposed to be of Barack Obama’s landmark acceptance speech the night before at Invesco Field in Denver. Alas, only the print media had that opportunity. Not long after the first editions were hitting the stands, the live media began covering a leak that Palin might be McCain’s surprise VP pick. From that point forward, Palin has been the center of media focus; and last night’s rocking acceptance speech, which energized the party faithful in a way McCain himself has failed to do since winning the primaries, only served to reinvigorate the frenzy over this hertofore unknown governor from Alaska.
The concurrence to be found among the punditry as they struggle to make sense of this all is only among the truly partisan. The widespread charges of inexperience and hypocrisy are offset by the irrepressible raving of the Right. And for these, nothing the Libs or media cynics say will dampen their enthusiasm. In fact, it will probably only serve to stoke that enthusiasm. This is probably the most important effect of the Palin choice, and most advantageous for McCain. This alone might be enough to make the choice of Palin a worthwhile gamble for McCain; but there’s more.
John McCain has struggled for months to win the affections of the GOP faithful. In that time, as I have wandered through the circles of staunch GOP activists and fundraisers, a consistent message stood out until last night–lukewarm enthusiasm bordering on apathy in some extreme cases. As McCain endeavored to counter this, he made some concessions to the Right that hurt his Maverick credentials. And in this he began to lose what made McCain the Maverick unique, and the hero of those who also praise the issue-before-party approach of Joe Lieberman.
Now, Palin has taken the pressure off McCain. In a few short days the GOP faithful have been brought back to a circa-2004 level of excitement. This will allow John to return to what he’s best at-mildy annoying his own party and winning the hearts of independents. Now John can be John. Palin has made that possible. In the hearts of Republicans, it seems that now Palin has also made victory possible. And in the meantime, a GOP star has been born.
Let’s face it, the vaunted Clinton machine has shown complete fecklessness in the face of Obamania. The ways in which she has failed to make headway against this force of nature–the rhetoric of Obama–are countless. Its actually staggering the missed opportunities and the inability of her campaign to find weak points to harp on, especially considering the willingness of the Clintons to play dirty.
A new thought occurred to me this afternoon, though. Did Hillary just get unlucky? What if Obama had decided to wait until the next go ’round in ’12? How would the “inevitable candidate” fared in a race without the Illinois senator-cum-rock star/hope-monger/Presidential candidate?
For starters, she would have dispatched all the second-tier candidates with ease. John Edwards would have remained as her chief rival. I suspect that she would have become at some point the clear establishment candidate, meaning all the endorsements and money flowing to Obama would instead have been hers. She would in that case have been able to play by her own rules. She could have hit Edwards with more traditional attacks, since he would be a more symmetrical opponent. Without Obama, it is highly likely she would have all but wrapped up the nomination by now.
Then what? She would face McCain in the general election. Theoretically, she should win, because she would be the “change candidate.” In the general election, her more centrist foreign policy would dilute McCain’s biggest selling point, and she could probably demagogue her way to victory on domestic issues.
But this is 2008. Would the voters really go for the old Clinton tricks this time around? Cynicism directed toward Washington is high, as shown by not only President Bush’s perennially dreadful approval ratings but also the even worse approval rating for the Democratic Congress (which somehow has managed to do worse than the shamefully useless Repubican Congress before it). The Clintons of ’92 and ’96 got away with all manner of semantic gymnastics and fallacy, and developed evasion of tough questions into an art form. They played dirty but never got mud on their clothes. And somehow, they could connect with Americans, who were all too happy to overlook the closets in Arkansas bulging with skeletons.
Methinks today’s voter would be less apt to let them get away with it. The Clinton machine is a 20th century dinosaur that has proven itself inferior to better evolved species. Perhaps she was unlucky in that in her year to shine, Obama also rose. Perhaps, however, she was doomed anyway.
Your comments are appreciated.
In case you were somehow still unclear on Ron Paul’s Iraq policy, here it is in a no-frills message to New Hampshire voters:
To recap, Paul will end the war in Iraq and the war on terror immediately upon being sworn into office. That means he will withdraw (not redeploy, withdraw. No Clintonesque fun with semantics for Ron Paul!) all troops from Iraq. Nevermind the mass carnage that may ensue….
Anyway, in case you wondered, Paul is at 6.8 percent in NH right now, behind Romney, Giuliani, and McCain.