Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Sarah Palin Files, Pt. 5

I hate it when I fall asleep at 10:00 pm and wake up at 1:00 am, and find myself completely awake when I try to go to bed. At least once, I found that writing a blog helped. And it was gentler than, say, downing a cocktail of whiskey and sleeping pills.

But rather than post images of turds here on the Triple-T, as I did last time I blogged while unable to sleep, I'll return to topic du jour, Sarah Palin. My apologies for being so fixated on this; but there is a lot of groud to cover here. Plus, it's great theater if nothing else, and in the end, I just can't get over the sheer absurdity of it all.

If nothing else, this whole charade is bringing out the best in Andrew Sullivan, whose blog I have been reading for most of this year (and I highly recommend). To wit:

For Charles [Krauthammer, who called the pick, "near suicidal"], it must be a little insulting to have worked many years thinking about foreign policy in high office, and to be facing a potentially catastrophic period of war in the Middle East and find that a woman whose expertise is in fishing, snowboarding and oil-drilling has been deemed worthy of leading the free world at the drop of a hat. But that's how seriously McCain takes national security.

This was about marketing not governing; hiring for appearance not competence. And they did it - without apparent irony - on the anniversary of Katrina as another hurricane threatens. [Far] from being a reversal of the Bush administration's worst instincts, McCain seems itent on recreating it - as farce. Heckuva Job, Sarah.

Sullivan, an ideological conservative, has been a vocal critic of today's Republicans. This on the Palin pick and the response of the right:

Gingrich is talking about the triumph of authenticity. Yes: conservatives for the importance of authenticity over basic competence. Well: they sure aren't elitists.

The important thing for today's Republicans is that the leaders evoke the kind of cultural identity of evangelical Christians, regardless of their competence or knowledge or even interest in, you know, governing. You pick a candidate because of her gender and religion and recent baby, even if she has no record of even any opinions on foreign policy and the only opinion you can actually find opposes the critical plank of McCain's war "strategy."

War? What war? The Republicans have a base to rally. Readers know what I think of the current GOP. But this pick, and the base's response to it, suggests a political party that has nuked the fridge.

This post from Sullivan, is probably the most encouraging. Polling suggests that the Palin pick is sitting well with only conservatives (surprise!). Democrats are nonplussed, and this:

But among the critical undecideds, the Palin pick made only 6 percent more likely to vote for McCain; and it made 31 percent less likely to vote for him. 49 percent said it would have no impact, and 15 percent remained unsure. More to the point: among undecideds, 59 percent said Palin was unready to be president. Only 6 percent said she was. If the first criterion for any job is whether you're ready for it, this is a pretty major indictment of the first act of McCain's presidential leadership.

One other striking finding. If McCain thought he could present Palin as a moderate, he was wrong. A whopping 69 percent view her as conservative (37 percent as very conservative), and only 13 percent see her as moderate.

From this first snap-shot (and unsettled) impression, Palin has helped McCain among Republicans, left Democrats unfazed, but moved the undecideds against him quite sharply. I totally understand why.

John McCain's problems with the radical right are well-documented. At best, they were going to vote for him (probably in lower numbers) this year, but would be holding their nose while doing it. It seems, then, that this pick may be designed as more of an appeal to the right than it would seem at first glance. I know, by using the word "designed," I'm giving a lot of credit to the decision-making process when the lack of thorough vetting suggest little credit is due. But the point is that it is a defensive pick, rather than a play for the undecideds and independents. If John McCain is on the defensive here, that is a bad sign for him.

This data is encouraging for the "good guys" though. I had hoped that voters would be keeping their eye on the ball this year after having witnessed the consequences of not doing so in 2000 or 2004. Maybe they are.

No comments: