September 05, 2008
How did it play politically? Will it energize the base? Will it make swing voters swoon? As usual, your guess is as good as mine--or any of the pundits you see yapping on the television right now. Until the focus groups and polls come in, we're all just speculating. But I can register a verdict on substance. If this was McCain's answer to voter anxiety about the economy, it wasn't too impressive. As you've been reading--or, perhaps, as you've noticed on your own--economic policy has not been a big theme this week in Minneapolis.
September 04, 2008
The Next Front
At a stop on July 22 in Rochester, New Hampshire, Senator John McCain was asked a series of questions about the American troop presence in Iraq. As he has throughout his campaign, McCain insisted that U.S. forces were winning the war in Iraq and, if allowed to complete their mission, would leave behind a working democracy, check “disruptive” influences, and clear the way for a transformed Middle East. The back-and-forth culminated with the following exchange:Questioner: Don’t you believe that we are inflaming the Muslim world by our presence there?McCain: Thank you. I do not.
Political conventions have a public and a private face. The respective parties and their nominees carefully control how each looks. John McCain’s campaign is trying to keep some of his and Sarah Palin’s positions on policy out of the public eye--meaning out of prime time speeches, and in some cases even out of the public forums that take place during the day and are open to the media. These omissions are as important to what the convention means as the speeches themselves. They show what candidate wants to hide from the public--until after he is elected. 1.
Sleepless in St. Paul
I have been asked what advice I might have for the Palin family. For the record, no Palin (nor Levi Johnston, for that matter) has written in. But the drama surrounding the family life of John McCain’s running mate, for whatever reason, has riveted the country. Maybe the fact that Sarah Palin is the first female Republican vice-presidential nominee is responsible for all this interest. Or it might be the fact that she is good-looking. Or that she was runner-up in the Miss Alaska contest. Or that she has five children, some of whom are the subject of gossip.
The Nostalgia Trap
Watching the first night of the truncated Republican National Convention, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled upon C-SPAN coverage of some Veterans of Foreign Wars gathering. Shots of the crowd at the Xcel Energy Center revealed a sea of white faces and gray heads.
Mike makes a great point about how well-received Palin's speech was among liberal elites. Lots of them deemed Palin's homespun shtick authentic and assumed it was what actual homespun people want. Fortunately, I think it's just another example of the elites being out of touch. My sense is that, while most PTA mothers don't want politicians bashing them, they don't see PTA membership as a qualification for the presidency. By playing up her ordinary mother bona fides, Palin demonstrated that she's a regular person.
Thanks to his neo-celebrity running mate, John McCain has one tough act to follow. The upside of Sarah Palin's turbocharged speech last night is that, well, the world is now obsessed with her. The downside: She's overshadowing John McCain, and at the same time has amped up the energy here in a way that puts more pressure on McCain to lift up the crowd. McCain needs to muster as much energy as he naturally can.
The McCain campaign faced an interesting choice last night: They could go for gravitas, weaving in wonky specifics to offset Palin's resume, or double-down on her small-town charm. They went with the latter, which played well on television, but I'm not sure it ultimately advanced Palin's cause. I could see people thinking this was a person they liked but wouldn't want anywhere near the White House. For that matter, I'm not sure the letters "PTA" should ever appear in a vice-presidential speech--at least not the biographical portion.
While Republicans may have consolidated their base and staunched the bleeding over Sarah Palin's pick, their most important task still remains: John McCain needs to go into a room of ten thousand screaming Republicans and distance himself from George W. Bush. The Obama campaign has honed its line of attack against John McCain--he has voted with George Bush 90% of the time and his election would represent a third Bush term. To its credit Team Obama repeats this like a mantra. If this criticism sticks it will be devastating to McCain.
A Little Water On The Palinmania
Hyperbole alert--tonight, Politico gushes, "all doubts were doused" after Palin's speech: "Palin’s speech so delighted some Republicans that they suggested it may instantly elevate her to GOP rock-star status and diminish presidential contenders who ran this year who may hope to seek the White House again. 'Who's most bummed?' asked one veteran Republican consultant. 'Obama? Biden? Mitt? Huck?