Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Big Chill

After the Palin speech and the media reception, I have little to add that I didn't write this morning, well in advance of the event. The media in general is fauning all over her, in precisely the terms I predicted.

The viewing audience may be a different story. Some will either already know or will even read stories about the many inaccuracies, which being intentional and repeated, are simply lies. But even those who just discount most of what politicians say about each other will have noted what several MSNBC panelists called sarcasm, insult and condescension towards Barack Obama. Others mentioned that it is one thing to hear this kind of rhetoric from a voice you know, and another from someone who has tried to introduce herself moments before.

So to add to the earlier list of voting groups Palin probably loses, I think she turned off independents, who are also most likely to be troubled by her lack of qualifications. Being a moose-hunting mother is not much in the way of credentials for being next in line as Commander in Chief. Her only mention of the vice-presidency was that she would be an advocate for special needs children and their families. While laudable, it doesn't bear on the vice presidency.

Where Palin obviously scored was with the people at the convention. But who are they? Many Republican office-holders and especially reelection-seekers skipped this convention. The people who are there are Bush Cheney hard right Karl Rove fans, mostly old and mostly white. The McBush people may be trying to pin sexism on liberal media, but Palin's tone and the images of that convention make you really wonder about racism.

So the hard right wing base is fired up--apparently money and volunteers are coming in. The TV audience Tuesday was a bit over the 20 million threshhold--not as big as the Dems at the start, but respectable. Palin's speech was late--she finished past 11 eastern. I'm not sure this helped with anybody other than the people in the hall, the rabid rightists at home, and of course, the media.

Tom Edsall wrote this: "John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin puts his campaign firmly on track toward a hard-edged drive to mobilize the GOP's conservative base, threatening to erase what remains of his centrist maverick image and his appeal to moderate and independent voters...McCain and Palin now head a ticket that is emerging as more red-bloodedly conservative than Bush-Cheney in 2004 -- when conservatism would have appeared to have reached its zenith -- with a platform substantially further to the right on issues ranging from education to immigration."

The gamble is that with an energized base, McBush might be able to hoodwink enough people into forgettting he's the Republican candidate and believing he's for change, too. (Though when supporting this idea, Palin used the most mean-spirited and personally insulting lines aimed at Obama: "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.")

McCain is betting that the politics of resentment, the small politics that worked for Bush, would allow him to squeak through in another close election.

So now it's clear if it wasn't before: this election is a struggle for the soul of America.

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