Saying that, after watching the Palin as Vice President psychodrama for a full week, I am even more impressed by the diabolical genius that is her rise and nomination. While many commentators and bloggers assumed her addition to the ticket was a cynical (and I will use that term judiciously) attempt to get disaffected Hillary supports, that has hopefully been pushed to the roadside for the weightier reasons for her pick. These more compelling reasons show some of the same strength the Republicans have always shown for campaigning (it also shows that winning has always been of more importance to Republican politicians than governance*).
While we cannot dismiss the desire of McCain and the party to gain access to the loyal Hillary women, it is obvious from the lack of time Palin spent mentioning Hillary along Palin's red meat (caribou?) fed to the delegates at the convention that this is not their primary aim.
It is now obvious that the reason for the inclusion of Palin is her appeal to the base, which is now giving money, offering to volunteer and complaining about the media's Liberal bias. Why?Because the media is stupid enough to play right into the Br'er Rabbit Republican admonition not to be thrown into the Brier patch. Palin gives the Republicans the candidate they need to rally around on core Religious Right issues while playing the gender card and acting as if they are on the higher moral plane (seriously, cynically smart- you Democrats could never pull this off). This is Rovian contempt for the media circus you create and taking the strengths of the other and making them yours at its best. By the way, I think Palin united 2 bases this week, Democrats also.
The second reason for her nomination was shown to me yesterday. Newt Gingrich alerted me to the masterstroke during an interview with Jon Stewart on Wednesday night. As Jon asked the question we have heard multiple times regarding Palin's presence robbing McCain of his strongest argument against an Obama presidency (that of experience), Newt's approach was pure Rovian mad science. That was the point! By highlighting the lack of experience of Palin, people are forced to compare her to Obama, which in turn allows the Republicans to guide the narrative regarding Obama's lack of experience (and knowledge in their vernacular). The circular logic is dizzying, but the effect is a net gain for McCain. Clinton wanted to do this, but could not. Only by bringing a "reformer" with no experience could McCain use weakness to highlight weakness.
While I still think this election is Obama's to lose, Palin is a game changer. Sure, she can crash and burn with one slip of the tongue or grainy video. But, Obama and Biden will not attack her. First of all, you don't attack VPs. It seems ungainly and weak (you attack presidential candidate). Secondly, the media will perceive any attack as sexist, due to the changing of the narrative by the Republican machine (see my last post and watch Jon Stewart's clip for evidence).
Obama's (and all Democrats not named Clinton) greatest weakness is his inability to shape the narrative according to his desires and make the stories the media and professional talkers (and writers) what he wants them to be. This is why Republicans win more elections. They are better at working the refs. The Republicans are Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan while the Democrats are European floppers (sure the refs give you the call every once in a while, but everyone else notices you flopped to get it). To make it work Obama needs to (taking a basketball analogy entirely too far) follow the lead of Kobe Bryant, the Mamba, and dominate the news cycle, taking every foul as an affront and becoming selfish with the ball to score 80 points on a strong offense/ weak defense. I will leave it to him to figure out how.
* the desire to be elected but not to govern disturbs me greatly. We have created such a personality and identity based election cycle that it is used by politicans to gain power with no desire to put the best person in a job (no one thinks Palin is the best VP candidate- they think she is the future of the party). However, we had a part in the creation of such a system and will get what we deserve once more.
**I had 2 more reasons for the genius of the Palin nomination, but I forgot them in the fog of morning commute and dissipation of the caffeine buzz.