8.30.2008

The Actual Short List

1- Cheech Marin
2- Tiger Woods
3- Miss America

They all said no.

I think this is one of those moments of such tremendously awful political judgment that people will spend a lot of time assuaging their disbelief with "crazy like a fox" sort of commentary. At least for some short period. But then the fox will start burrowing a hole or some shit, and we'll all be like nope, just stupid like an actual, non-metaphorical small mammal.

I'm not sure how many Clinton voters are still 1) persuadable one way or the other 2) disgruntled, 3) live in a battleground, 4) inclined to not be bitter toward the younger, hotter token hire and 5) willing to vote for a pro-lifer.

If that's the move he wanted to make, he should have gone with oh, I don't know, Olympia Snowe. Then those 345 votes would have all been his. Which is why I don't actually think this is about those voters, at least not mostly. I think the idea is the base benefits of Pawlenty's politics with better optics. She eats mooseburgers, she's a MILF, etc- just the sort of thing to please the no-info voters out there.

Most of all, though, this just betrays a level of desperation that the media coverage does its best to obscure. However slapdashedly, McCain made a calculation that he would lose with a safer pick like Mitt Romney and that he had to take a big risk. I'd be shocked if it works. It undercuts his most compelling attack on Obama in "experience." More importantly, I think it opens up a whole host of attack points on judgment and age. Now we can talk about McCain's age-- a real liability, though more or less untouched to this point-- without actually talking about it.

"I'm old because I was a POW" probably isn't going to work.

17 comments:

Trevor Jackson said...

No, but "You can't spend 5 1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison and not be as old as me" almost gets you to the level at which he holds that POW experience up like a battered garbage can lid for defense.

If I had reason to doubt McCain's belief that Americans are stupid, Friday's announcement put it to rest. He really, really thinks we're stupid. And a lot of us are.

He's created a ticket with fake change on it. If you were unsure about Obama, now you get your very own white woman to vote for. She's a breeder and thinks you must be too!

McCain's choice is smart politically (though I hope he bet too highly on the nation's stupidity--I leave it to the press, so if that tells you where my hope is), but really dangerous practically. I guess so was his position on Georgia, so why should he change now?

Can you imagine if Obama had picked, say, Chet Culver? How confident would you feel that you hadn't just been pandered to?

Grendel said...

It's already not helping with women voters. I thought there would be initial enthusiasm for at least a week before this pick started to backfire. But by and large people immediately saw this for what it is: desperate, blatantly pandering, irresponsible.

One thing, though: It smells like Rove. She is going after the Bush voters. Note that they waited till after Obama's speech. I can imagine them seeing that incredible presentation and saying, "Okay, he's passed the readiness and comfortableness tests. That argument will be over now. We have to pick someone with a vagina now. Who should it be?"

And someone calls Rove. "Go after the low-info, batshit-crazy Bush voters." And Harriet Quayle will fire them up a bit -- but these are different days. It won't be enough this time.

Grendel said...

Bill Maher has some funny lines about her.

Pete said...

Maybe I'm underestimating the political choice, but my sense is that Palin won them the newscycle but will lose them the war. What little polling has been done on her yet seems to confirm that.

The best thing you can say for her is that Obama and Biden will need tread carefully to avoid the appearance of condescension. But so far the media is taking no such pains, which means, maybe, that the dems can just marginalize her in their attentions. The symbolism of the pick is, I think, perfectly legible to the average American: a beauty queen with a thin resume has been promoted above her merit. Feminists and non-feminists alike can come to that conclusion without much help from the Obama campaign. There's just no way she won't be gaffing it up left and right. She needs to have an opinion ready on EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN, pronto, including arcane matters of foreign policy. She could be a genius. It doesn't really matter. As Fallows put it the other day, Socrates would have trouble running for VP under such a tight rollout.

So I actually think the media will take care of Palin. That leaves Obama/Biden the luxury of simply focusing on McCain. Rather than blasting Palin when she says something impolitic, they can focus on McCain's age and judgment in selecting someone so green. The less the news Palin makes is about Palin the better.

That said, I'm not sure they'd pay such a huge price for attacking her directly if they made the mistake of doing so. This is not Hillary Clinton. Period. This is not a feminist icon, period. They can't be overtly rude to her but of course they wouldn't be. The GOP will try very hard to make hay out of every dem statement regarding Palin, surely. But will it work? I don't know. I think the idea is gaining traction for its meta-value--it's something positive pundits can say about the pick to balance the obvious negs--independent of its truth value. That doesn't mean it isn't true, of course, just that there's another reason why its being said over and over. Then again, being said over and over is a good way for an idea to become true, at least far as the media is involved. So yeah, the O campaign should do their best to talk about McCain instead of Palin.

But most of all, this shows that McCain is abandoning experience and trying to muddy the waters on change. And that, my friends, won't work any better.

cj said...

And I have to add: McCain has never looked so old as he did standing next to her.

Grendel said...

You mean when he was looking at her ass?

cj said...

And what do you make of this? (Click on the link within the link to read the full theory.)

My fear is that, even if it's true, it will just cement Palin's image as an fascinating TV character.

Pete said...

There is a Jerry Springer quality to Palin, what with this and the whole troopergate thing.

It'd be awfully irresponsible of Palin to accept the nom with that skeleton in her closet. But I'd bet money the Enquirer is on it already! They are on a roll lately...

cj said...

Grendel's comment, verified.

Pete said...

Jeez, McCain. And hey, Laura Bush is already warning the dems against being sexist toward Palin. Breathtaking cynicism.

So now I've read up on this pregnancy thing and I think it's clear that 1) it's not the sort of thing that one can determine by googling, which seems to be the extent of digging done to this point and that 2) someone, undoubtedly, will make the earnest effort at due diligence-- if they aren't already doing so.

(And that, really, is the point. Googling is not due diligence- as true for political scandals as it is for English papers. The scary thing to me is the illusion of certainty and adequacy so much digital tech provides people with. But that's another topic).

From a purely political perspective, I think the sooner that due diligence happens--whatever the findings-- the better for us. We can't let this slide into some equivalence to the muslim smear.

Though, come to think of it, that equivalence could really work to dem advantage. If the two rumors are connected to the extent that one is not likely to be mentioned without the other, that's a good thing. Both rumors, true or not, speak to likely McCain voters anyway. Whereas one hypothetically energizes them against Obama, the other might cancel that out in enough cases so as to suppress turn out among this particular group.

Eh? Who fucking knows. But it's a thought.

cj said...

Wow, I wasn't expecting the disproof to come in quite this fashion.

And we're supposed to believe that McCain knew about this, but waited for liberal bloggers to bring it up before disclosing it?

One can only wonder what's next. McCain/Palin: Two loose cannons for the price of one.

Grendel said...

Gee, that Palin family sure does a lotta unprotected fuckin' -- when they're not preaching to others about their sex lives, drunk driving, having epic soap-opera family brawls, trying to fire people for political reasons, and rejecting Alaska's relationship with the United States. It get worse by the hour. It was just revealed in the NYT that Sarah herself also couldn't wait to make the beast with two backs and got pregnant before marriage and had a shotgun wedding.

Let's predict how long before she's withdrawn from the ticket. I say about a week -- early next week, say late Tuesday. They'ss trudge dutifully, chins up, through the convention. But then she will decide her family needs her now. It will be praised as a great instance of leadership by McCain. But then whom will he choose?

Grendel said...

Cenk Uygur asks a simple, hilarious question: "What If Bristol Palin Were Black?"

Pete said...

Did you catch Dobson's "Hey, we're all only human" bullshit? Oh man. Palin is putting the lie to social conservativism on a national stage when everyone is paying attention-- and all we have to do is, as the big man says, "back off." This is an unprecedented self-destruct. The optics are self-apparent and undeniable. The headline does all our work for us.

I don't think he can drop her unless he replaces her with someone like Pawlenty. Otherwise, won't the fundamentalists just stay home? But will Pawlenty, as a do-over or not, solve the problem Palin couldn't? I don't think so. Add in the inevitable cost of a "do-over," no matter who it is, and the difference might not be enough to make it worthwhile.

For all the talk about dem disunity, theirs is the divided party. McCain has two mutually exclusive factions he needs to win. It's an intractable problem. Given the skepticism of the fundies, multimessaging won't work. If you look at Palin as an attempt to keep both factions happy, it not only illustrates the problem but McCain's poor judgment in trying to solve it. The 14 stories that came out yesterday aside, she wasn't appealing to at least one of the main groups she was supposed to appeal to-- more women said they were less likely to vote for McCain now than before--as of SATURDAY.

Their best bet at this point will be playing the victim- the mean liberal blog commenters are ruining America! But I really can't see that getting very far.

Man, oh man. This is even better than Romney would have been!

kclou said...

What seems beyond dispute is that McCain is reckless, and the last thing the country needs following this administration is recklessness. Today's Times article on the vetting process is embarrassing.

So how does Obama capitalize on McCain's poor decision making and general irresponsibility without seeming salacious?

Pete said...

That's sort of my point- he doesn't need to push the coverage when it's already working in his favor. This appears to be widening his lead. It could be so effective in that regard that he has the double benefit, with statements like yesterday's, of taking action that is both high-minded and politically useful.

The situation will indubitably change at some point. My guess is that things have gone so badly for Palin so quickly that soon enough she'll benefit from some sort of resurgence for no particularly good reason other than that a lot of pundits and reporters will be eager to turn the narrative on her in the inevitably counterintuitive direction. The expectations are getting lower and lower for her. All she has to do is remember the name of some foreign leader in interview on the right day and poof! "Is America Underestimating Sarah Palin?" becomes the question of the day.

But will it really matter at that point? I don't know. My sense is that the first impression will linger with all us voters who don't get points for making dumb ideas sound smart. And that impression is a stinker.

cj said...

On Intrade, you can now buy shares in the proposition that Palin will not remain the vice-presidential nominee through until November. It's currently going for 12 cents per share -- a little higher than when I last checked.

I think a non-reckless presidential candidate would do the smart thing and cut his losses now instead of later. If Palin "chose" to withdraw her name to prevent further invasions of her family's privacy, McCain could still get the benefit of arguing that the press had treated her unfairly, and could still use the episode to make a play for Clinton voters and evangelicals. His other choice is to stick with her wherever that might lead. Given what we know, though, my bet would be on McCain sticking with her.

There's an interesting piece about McCain's gambling style (as contrasted with Obama's) here. It doesn't make you want to put his finger on (or anywhere near) the button.