Friday, August 29, 2008

Some More Thoughts On Palin

One way to look at Palin is, the McCainiacs were planning to choose her for a while, but held out on the announcement for just the right moment or for "just in case," and choosing her reflects the over-all terrain of the campaign as one in which there is really pressure on the Repubs (as in 2000) to win by making themselves look liberal (even as they try to change the race into one about conservativism).

The competing theory is that McCain's staff have been trying and trying to win with the Rovian, "Move extremely in the direction of your base's interests even if it goes against expectations, and sometimes it will surprisingly work" tactic, but this has been leaving them empty-handed in light of the polls, so they have finally turned towards a real dyed-in-the-wool, move-towards-the-center gambit to try to start things up for them. We can debate whether it's the right choice, but no matter what, it's still a pretty natural conclusion for them to come to.

The thing about this particular way to move to the center-- a Republican choosing a woman running-mate-- is it's so novel and different that it's really hard to make predictions about. Will Republicans go for a man-and-woman ticket? Who knows at this point? Presumably McCain's team have done some polling that indicates this can work, but you never know. They always might have skipped the polling.

If the logic behind choosing Palin was correct, then (for speculation's sake) maybe an African American Palin would have been even better (although there certainly would have been a lot of Republicans who would have been offended at putting a person like that so close to the Presidency, a lot of those same Republicans would have understood the politics of it (pandering to bring in new voters) and still would have pulled the lever for what they would see as "the greater good").

Finally, I don't know about this suggestion that Romney and Pawlenty were "screwed" and that Palin had it in the bag all along. I don't have any idea how long they were thinking of using her, but something about that sounds fishy to me. For one thing, Romney was a genuinely strong option, and for another, they seemed to wait until Barack chose his VP, to see who they could effectively counter him with. Even if you believe my point of view that Republican operatives might be intimidating even guys like Barack (and putting words in their mouths), they still could be leaving decisions like who Barack's VP choice will be up to the responsible (genuine) Democrats, since guys like Barack might find it a lot harder to go along with the dictates of Republican propagandists if they feel like the Republicans are deciding things like who the Democratic Presidential candidate picks for his VP. If things like that don't happen, Barack can sort of half-way rationalize that all the intimidation and suggestions really do have to do with something like fighting terrorism (my bet is, he's been told something like that) and not with just plain old sinking the liberal ship.