McCain's Palin Strategy

Last Friday afternoon a close friend wise and cynical in the ways of New Jersey politics (his career as political tech and advisor going back almost to the epoch of Frank "I am the Law" Hague) got in touch to express some uncertainty concerning John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as GOP vice-presidential candidate. Nothing serious, just a slight uneasiness, a sense of wariness as to how the choice would work out.

It's a feeling not at all difficult to understand. At first glance, it's possible to conclude that Governor Palin has slightly too much of a muchness -- that she's a little too close to being a superwoman, and that equivalent failings may be hidden below the surface. She's a beauty queen! She juggles five kids and the governor's office! She's a crack shot who hunts moose in the far north woods! (Shades of Dan'l Boone and TR there -- I wonder how many of our hypermacho male pols can match that?) She went toe to toe with a corrupt GOP establishment and made them blink! She negotiates her own agreements with foreign countries! (Palin signed an agreement for a new gas pipeline on August 27 with Canada, something that neither Barack Obama nor Joe Biden -- or John McCain, for that matter -- has ever done.)

Some of us may recall Betsy McCaughey, the New York lieutenant governor who had such a bright future in the GOP until, uhhh... it developed that her mental picture of the world was at odds with that of most people.

But Sarah Palin does not seem to be prey to any such problem. So until something turns up (and if it's there, the media will find it -- look how quickly they jumped on the "nude shots" that have been known to be fake for weeks, and Kos story that her latest baby was really her grandchild), we may take it for granted that the GOP has grabbed the gold ring.

But the most interesting fact is being generally overlooked in the legacy media: what it says about McCain. (Though not on AT -- see Charlie Martin's piece discussing McCain and the OODA cycle here.) Look at this from a strategic perspective. There is no huge convention bounce for Obama; the Rasmussen tarcking poll has Obama but three points ahead of McCain.

That smashing sound you heard was  Obama's bounce being run over by a truck. McCain shoved it into the street, first by offering his "congratulations" in the middle of Obama's speech on Thursday night, then by dropping Palin on the Dems less than twelve hours later.

Every last campaign attempts to rain on the opposition's convention, but never in my experience has it been carried off as slickly and completely as this. Although the left and its press allies pretend Palin is a disaster for the GOP, the precise opposite is the case.

This is not the McCain of the 2000 election. That year, he was trying, like any other senatorial candidate, to bluster his way in. The problem with senators running for president is that they truly believe people are going to vote for them because of how wonderful they are. Call it the Bob Dole syndrome. They've been living in little bubbles for years, with everybody in sight kowtowing to them -- and when they get out in the big world and discover most of humanity has never heard of them, they can't adjust.

That was McCain in 2000. The McCain of 2008 is another story. He took his whipping  from W, and instead of sulking (or pitching viagra), he learned from it. This time, he's working out this campaign move by move, thinking five or more moves ahead. He considered exactly what he could do with his VP choice. Two white dudes, no matter who, are still two white dudes (we'll skip over the fact that the choice this year among dudedom was not particularly inspiring). But pick a woman, after Obama's Hillary fiasco -- he could not possibly have handled it worse -- and it's hell among the yearlings, as we're seeing now. The Obama campaign acting as if any woman running in opposition is named "Hillary" (and then immediately having to step back), the DU and Kos netroots frothing at the mouth, the disgusting rumors and innuendos (the claim that Palin's Down Syndrome child was actually borne by her eldest daughter -- a claim seriously put forward on Kos on Saturday -- marks a stunning low in political discourse. But they'll figure out how to go lower, the media once again revealing their bias without having any clear idea that they're doing it. (This election is going be decided, as much as anything else, by public revulsion against Democratic netroot tactics. But more on that later, as it all unfolds.)

None of this simply happened. It was made to happen. And the man who made it happen is named McCain. McCain has this worked out all the way down the line.  He's knows exactly how he's going to use Palin. And I think I've got an inkling. Palin's specialty is energy, this year's serious weak point for the Dems. Who sat around refusing a vote on allowing new drilling all summer while gas prices went through the stratosphere? What are they going to say to someone who has hands-on experience dealing with energy questions? Someone who has dealt with the industry on a daily basis?  Someone who has actually negotiated energy matters with a foreign country?

I think McCain is sitting across the board and looking at Obama and thinking, "Your move, ace." McCain has moved out his queen, and she, as queens will do, is dominating the board. Let's see how the Dems deal with that.

J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.
Last Friday afternoon a close friend wise and cynical in the ways of New Jersey politics (his career as political tech and advisor going back almost to the epoch of Frank "I am the Law" Hague) got in touch to express some uncertainty concerning John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as GOP vice-presidential candidate. Nothing serious, just a slight uneasiness, a sense of wariness as to how the choice would work out.

It's a feeling not at all difficult to understand. At first glance, it's possible to conclude that Governor Palin has slightly too much of a muchness -- that she's a little too close to being a superwoman, and that equivalent failings may be hidden below the surface. She's a beauty queen! She juggles five kids and the governor's office! She's a crack shot who hunts moose in the far north woods! (Shades of Dan'l Boone and TR there -- I wonder how many of our hypermacho male pols can match that?) She went toe to toe with a corrupt GOP establishment and made them blink! She negotiates her own agreements with foreign countries! (Palin signed an agreement for a new gas pipeline on August 27 with Canada, something that neither Barack Obama nor Joe Biden -- or John McCain, for that matter -- has ever done.)

Some of us may recall Betsy McCaughey, the New York lieutenant governor who had such a bright future in the GOP until, uhhh... it developed that her mental picture of the world was at odds with that of most people.

But Sarah Palin does not seem to be prey to any such problem. So until something turns up (and if it's there, the media will find it -- look how quickly they jumped on the "nude shots" that have been known to be fake for weeks, and Kos story that her latest baby was really her grandchild), we may take it for granted that the GOP has grabbed the gold ring.

But the most interesting fact is being generally overlooked in the legacy media: what it says about McCain. (Though not on AT -- see Charlie Martin's piece discussing McCain and the OODA cycle here.) Look at this from a strategic perspective. There is no huge convention bounce for Obama; the Rasmussen tarcking poll has Obama but three points ahead of McCain.

That smashing sound you heard was  Obama's bounce being run over by a truck. McCain shoved it into the street, first by offering his "congratulations" in the middle of Obama's speech on Thursday night, then by dropping Palin on the Dems less than twelve hours later.

Every last campaign attempts to rain on the opposition's convention, but never in my experience has it been carried off as slickly and completely as this. Although the left and its press allies pretend Palin is a disaster for the GOP, the precise opposite is the case.

This is not the McCain of the 2000 election. That year, he was trying, like any other senatorial candidate, to bluster his way in. The problem with senators running for president is that they truly believe people are going to vote for them because of how wonderful they are. Call it the Bob Dole syndrome. They've been living in little bubbles for years, with everybody in sight kowtowing to them -- and when they get out in the big world and discover most of humanity has never heard of them, they can't adjust.

That was McCain in 2000. The McCain of 2008 is another story. He took his whipping  from W, and instead of sulking (or pitching viagra), he learned from it. This time, he's working out this campaign move by move, thinking five or more moves ahead. He considered exactly what he could do with his VP choice. Two white dudes, no matter who, are still two white dudes (we'll skip over the fact that the choice this year among dudedom was not particularly inspiring). But pick a woman, after Obama's Hillary fiasco -- he could not possibly have handled it worse -- and it's hell among the yearlings, as we're seeing now. The Obama campaign acting as if any woman running in opposition is named "Hillary" (and then immediately having to step back), the DU and Kos netroots frothing at the mouth, the disgusting rumors and innuendos (the claim that Palin's Down Syndrome child was actually borne by her eldest daughter -- a claim seriously put forward on Kos on Saturday -- marks a stunning low in political discourse. But they'll figure out how to go lower, the media once again revealing their bias without having any clear idea that they're doing it. (This election is going be decided, as much as anything else, by public revulsion against Democratic netroot tactics. But more on that later, as it all unfolds.)

None of this simply happened. It was made to happen. And the man who made it happen is named McCain. McCain has this worked out all the way down the line.  He's knows exactly how he's going to use Palin. And I think I've got an inkling. Palin's specialty is energy, this year's serious weak point for the Dems. Who sat around refusing a vote on allowing new drilling all summer while gas prices went through the stratosphere? What are they going to say to someone who has hands-on experience dealing with energy questions? Someone who has dealt with the industry on a daily basis?  Someone who has actually negotiated energy matters with a foreign country?

I think McCain is sitting across the board and looking at Obama and thinking, "Your move, ace." McCain has moved out his queen, and she, as queens will do, is dominating the board. Let's see how the Dems deal with that.

J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.