Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain Needs a Reset Button

Everything seemed to be going well on that summer night in Saint Paul when the Republican delegates and the whole country seemed infatuated with the "hockey mom" from Alaska. John McCain seemed to revitalize a stagnant campaign and make the nation stand up and take notice. The Republican convention was the most watched convention in television history, edging out the Democratic convention of the week before. The aftermath saw McCain ahead of Obama in almost every national poll, and Obama saw his electoral poll advantage evaporate. What a difference a month makes! The way the McCain campaign has been going since the afterglow of Saint Paul, it is in desperate need of a reset button.
Some may say, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the death of the McCain campaign may be greatly exaggerated, but such is not the case. It's all over but the shouting.
Palin is a train wreck. Palin has to make Dan Quayle happy, because until now, Quayle set the standard for inept running mates. Oh how we long for the days of Dan Quayle. Palin makes Quayle look like a genuis. The few interviews she has given have shown a complete and utter failure to understand the issues which the next Presidential administration will face.
What in the world was McCain thinking when he thought that Palin was up to the job of being Vice President? The rationale for a Palin pick was one or a combination of the following: I'll break them down into the "benefit of the doubt" and "cynical" explanations.
1. Palin will attract the disgruntled Hillary supporters. Benefit of the doubt -- 18 million voted for Hillary in the primary, many of them women. Sarah Palin will arouse a feeling of pride in women and they will vote for her because she broke through that "glass ceiling" that Hillary couldn't. Cynical --- Women are stupid. A woman is a woman is a woman. They voted for Hillary. They'll vote for Palin. This clearly has not happened, because to the surprise of the McCain campaign, women are not a group of lemmings who vote on gender and not the issues. Women came out in big numbers for Hillary not solely because she was a woman, but because they liked the way should stood on issues that were important to them.
2. Palin will energize the conservative base. Benefit of the doubt -- Palin is popular among conservatives, and they will be enthused when one of their own is on the ticket. There was an enthusiasm gap, because McCain was viewed as a moderate or, worse yet, a liberal. Palin would make the conservative base happy. Cynical -- conservatives, like women, are lemmings. They will happily support anyone who is one of their own. Many conservative commentators spoke glowingly of Palin, but always looked at her as a long shot. The more intellectually true conservatives like George Will and David Brooks have seen through Palin and realize that she is completely unqualified for the vice presidency, let alone the presidency.
3. Palin is young and will offset the age issue. Benefit of the doubt -- John McCain will be the oldest person elected to a first term as President in history. Palin is 44 years old. She will offset McCain's age and will add youth and vigor to the ticket. Cynical -- She's a cute woman, and the media will give her a pass. Unfortunately for McCain, Palin has only amplified the age issue, and her youth has now also amplified her inexperience.
4. Palin is confident and doesn't blink when the going gets tough. Benefit of the doubt -- America wants a leader who shows certitude. Make a decision, and never look back. That is decisiveness, and that's what the American people want. Cynical -- The American people are stupid and they can be fooled into believing certitude can overcome a lack of knowledge and experience.
Hit the reset button, John. To paraphrase Gerald Ford, let our long national nightmare be over.

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