What may have made Sarah Palin a star? Again, not her accomplishments. It may well be the same thing as for Obama – a speech, delivered tonight at the 2008 Republican convention. Palin’s smart, small-town irony and grounded confidence seem perfectly calibrated for Middle American Millenials. (It also doesn't hurt that she was pre-vilified by the MSM and the misogynist blogger boyz. Sets the charm-us bar nice and low, and predisposes many to take her side.) Of course, her far-right views have already won her the wingnuts – so the ticket can probably afford to run a non-ideological campaign, taking the Right for granted. And because she can at least make inroads into one other large demographic – Independent women – she may be able to attract a coalition large enough to help John McCain become President of the
This comparison was prompted by another element of the political jujitsu of Palin’s selection that I hadn’t appreciated until tonight. They’re running Sarah Palin not against Joe Biden – he was barely mentioned – but against Barack Obama. They want people to draw that comparison. They want it in part because they think more people will simply like her better than they like him. But even more, I suspect, the simple fact of the comparison diminishes Obama, and locates McCain above them both, on some other plane of service and readiness.
None of this had to be. Indeed, the fact that we’re in this situation – with the Democratic ticket facing serious trouble in an overwhelming Democratic year – is a train wreck that remains astonishing, even as we watch it occur in slow motion. It happened because the leadership of the Democratic Party abnegated its responsibilities in two crucial respects. First, it put its thumb on the scales in favor of the weaker candidate, the one who posed less of a challenge to its putative leaders’ self-image. Second, it stood by and permitted vicious hatred to taint the Party, without uttering a peep or doing a thing to protect the brand of the institution, of which these people were, after all, the stewards.Those two things not only left us with a weak candidate. They opened a hole in the side of the election wide enough to drive a Hummer through. Well, we’ve just seen what that Hummer looks like. It drives pretty damn smooth.
Update: Taylor Marsh gets it -- and just how desperate we are is evident in the solution she's proposing: namely, that Joe Biden has to take Palin out "or we will get beat." Uh, Joe Biden? Mr. Uncontrolled Motormouth? The guy who couldn't attract any votes away from Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich or Bill Richardson, much less Obama or Hillary? This is a Hail-Mary pass if ever I saw one... and it's sort of breathtaking that we're the ones suddenly in the position of having to toss one.