Palin, Two Weeks On

Fri, 12 Sep 2008 15:50:00 +0000

What have we learned in the last two weeks about the political ramifications of Senator McCain's selection of Governor Palin as his running mate? We know that there has been a big impact on the polls. (Paul Krugman had an interesting post on this yesterday.)

In "The Politics of the Palin Pick," I cited three political advantages of Senator McCain's selection of Governor Palin for the ticket:

  1. It reinforces McCain's image as a maverick.
  2. It rallies the Republican evangelical base.
  3. It divides his political opponents.

Most comments indicated that #1 and #2 were pretty clearly advantages, but there was less consensus on #3. With the benefit of hindsight, I would rephrase that idea as "it divided his political opponents from their least faithful followers."

I am thinking specifically of groups like NOW. It is not easy for groups that have relied on identity politics to advance their cause to make a compelling case for why they support the group's advancement but not the advancement of this member of the group. It is only natural that after months of arguing that Senator Clinton was treated unfairly by the media because of her sex that those who had been listening would be looking to see whether Governor Palin was treated in the same way. Different versions of this played out based on her religion, her family and choices related to them, her small town background, and the like. As Mike Gerson notes in The Washington Post today, some people on the Left just couldn't help themselves. [h/t Troy]

Inside the Obama campaign, I think they realized early on that this was simply a skillful, entirely political, countermove by the McCain campaign after Senator Clinton was passed over for the ticket. But the best policy in the Obama campaign would simply be to stay on message, something like, "We can all be fully confident that Governor Palin would faithfully continue the agenda of a McCain administration if she were called upon to assume the Presidency." Then hammer the message home about the agenda.