Sunday, August 31, 2008

On VPs, and optimism 

I think VP choices can matter quite a bit. Cheney was a big selling point for the experience-less Bush. Ethnic windbag Lieberman was a big drag on Gore. Edwards was maybe a break even for Kerry, but he did offer the Repubs some easy $400 haircut jokes and insinuations of running mate pederasty, plus he compared unfavorably to Cheney in their debate.

Palin could prove to be a difference maker. Main reason is the Republican “base” hates McCain's guts, but they LOVE Palin, so now you have the right wing born-again types getting very fired up, and that’s something that wasn’t happening just last week.

Plus, Palin is the fruition of some clever Republican VP-choice gamesmanship. They ran the “not ready to be commander in chief” stuff on the Obama campaign so hard that they panicked and went with the safe choice in Biden. Now, the experience issue is much more complicated and a bit diminished, and Biden does not have a lot to recommend to him without his foreign relations cred. Obama must be wishing now he’d gone with his soundest option, Tim Kaine, who was questionable when experience mattered. Today, Kaine would’ve been the perfect southern-fried Bible-thumping red-stater to persuade some of the less enlightened among us to vote Obama.

Not to say I’m not optimistic. But this is the Rove playbook we’re talking about here. Make your opponent’s greatest strength into his weakness. Make your greatest weakness into your strength. And if you’ll pardon the extended sports analogy, so far all Obama’s won is the coin toss. He elected to kick, and McCain-Palin ran the ball to midfield. They’ve got good field position going into their convention and will hold onto the ball for four long days.

I do think we’re looking at a long game ahead. Which is not to say be overly gloomy. Just get your checkbooks back out, and start thinking about some road trip weekends this fall.


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