Wednesday, September 3. 2008
Stories are like diamond cutting. The interesting ones are those that break into many facets each with its own distinctive view of the story. The Georgia war was interesting less for what happened to the poor people in the way than for how much tired cold war ideology it revealed. The Joe Biden nomination wasn't interesting at all: it was the ultimate safe choice, proven by the fact that nobody (aside from Counterpunch) had anything to say about it. In retrospect, it shows how cautious and methodical Obama is, but only compared to McCain-Palin will anyone notice. Anyone McCain could have picked would have reflected on McCain. Lieberman would have been good for publicity, but he's been pretty well aired out by now. I was hoping for Phil Gramm, but he's pure coal compared to Palin: nothing but a source of heat and pollution, sure to cover McCain in soot. Palin's much more than that.
Brent D Wistrom: Brownback pulled as one to nominate Palin. One of the most perverse things about the anti-abortion crowd is how much they adore teenage pregnancies. For these people, the news that Sarah Palin's 17-year-old unwed daughter is pregnant is a sign from God. KS Sen. Sam Brownback is one of them. He was originally asked to give Palin's nomination speech, but evidently McCain's handlers started having second thoughts, as if they recognize that most Americans might not be so joyful over the Palin family's blessings.
Speaking of giddy, on the opinion page Cal Thomas has a love letter to Palin, annointing her as a "Steel Magnolia." This is actually a far cry from the usual run of Republican pundits, who lined up dutifully behind Palin because those were the marching orders.
So at least one part of the Palin pick is working beautifully, perhaps too much so. The fundamentalist base is rallying behind her, which is a double-sided sword. They got their candidate, and -- unlike the Fred Barneses of the world -- they're going to be hurt if McCain drops her. On the other hand, their fanatic support only adds to McCain's already substantial nutjob factor. When this finally sinks in, a lot of centrist voters are going to be very nervous.
Alex Koppelman: Quote of the day. Actually, the quote, which pertains to the point above, is from Byron York over at National Review:
Actually, if Palin was a Democrat and got nominated, virtually everything in her story would spin around 180 degrees.
Marc Ambinder: What McCain Didn't Know About Sarah Palin. Subtitle: "And why he probably would have picked her anyway." Goes through in pretty substantial detail what McCain's people actually did find out about Palin, and how they planned to use that -- e.g., to turn the "lack of experience" issue around to emphasize her executive experience as mayor and governor, something Obama and Biden (and McCain) lack. The argument that McCain would have picked Palin anyway depends more on the mostly imaginary outisder-reformist narrative. That strikes me as the weakest and most phony of her assets. She offers a sense of human (as in fallible) commonness that McCain sorely lacks (and that he sure wouldn't have picked up with Romney). On the other hand, I'm not sure if that's what America wants in a [vice] president.
Patrick J Buchanan: Johnny's got a new girl. One thing we differ on here at home is Buchanan: whether he's an incisive critic at least on a few points, or whether he's inevitably just a partisan hack. Here's his take on Palin:
I'd say this lines him up pretty securely with the partisan hacks.
Josh Marshall: Risk of Stating the Obvious. Lists two "key facts" in the presidential race:
I imagine there was a point where McCain fantasized that picking Palin would have extended his reach: that he might have picked up a big chunk of those Clinton PUMAs. In any case, he did succeed in stealing the news cycle back from the Democrats. But the way Palin is playing out may have just the opposite effect: rallying the born-againers is more likely to unite the Democrats than to split them. McCain may have figured he needed to gamble to win, or he may just like gambling. Lots of Americans like gambling. They think it's about winning, but mostly they just lose.
The question all this raises is whether they like leaders who gamble. After two terms of George Bush doubling and redoubling his failed, hedged bets, I hope not.