Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin Comparison

The reviews are coming in, decidedly mixed, trending negative. Despite some reports of an enthusiastic crowd in Washington, PA (though when Palin mentioned Hillary, the crowd booed) and among the Rabid Right, the first polls are mixed and the first editorials are negative. Historians are blown away, but not in a good way, cf: “ I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major-party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.

A lacerating review in Salon that begins, "It is hard to think of a more cynical and contemptuous political act this year than John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate," is one thing. But big thumbs down from the two biggest newspapers in Alaska, something else. Editorials in other newspapers were no better.

Polls show the lowest percentage ever recorded for confidence that Palin is qualified, and slightly more women seem turned off--or angered--by the choice than view it positively. 9% of female Hillary voters are more inclined to vote McCain now--but 15% are LESS likely. This political analysis in Politico about why McCain made this choice is pretty acute.

But the bigger news at this hour is hurricane Gustav, a major threat to the Gulf and zeroing in on New Orleans, though it may make landfall a little west or as far west as Texas. It doesn't necessarily get better after it hits Monday night, either. Jeff Masters at Wunderblog suggests it could go offshore again and gather strength for a return somewhere (just as Katrina did), influenced perhaps by the storm right behind it, currently tropical storm Hanna.

Sunday the Republicans will decide how best to exploit the storm for political advantage. McCain and Palin are already planning a photo op in Mississippi, and McCain's acceptance address may be a movable feast: anywhere there happens to be enough photogenic wreckage. Like everything else dramatic, this is unpredictable. The split screen coverage of the storm and the convention could get the convention more viewers than it would have alone. But how will viewers react? Will they believe the images the Republicans hope to try to manufacture, of GOPer led state and feds doing a heck of a job? Or will it look like the Curse of Katrina?

Frank Rich has outdone himself this Sunday--I can't quote this without quoting it all, so go read it. He's right that the hot air networks got it wrong about the conflict at the Dem convention--I was particularly offended by the comparisons with 1968, when some of my compatriots had their heads smashed. But the phony drama may have gotten more folks to tune in.

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