Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin's Effect on the Race

I think that Jonathan Zasloff has it about right:
Throughout the blogosphere, the pundits are saying that the Palin nomination is either a disaster for McCain (Blue) or a game-changing work of genius (Red). I suspect it is neither, mainly because voters virtually never change their votes on a Veep.
I disagree about the way Zasloff says the biases are stacking up. I've seen conservatives say (worriedly) that Palin is a disaster (e.g.), and I've seen liberals say (worriedly) that Palin was a brilliant pick (e.g.). I think that both views are well represented on both sides of the political spectrum -- and not just in the blogosphere, either. There's been a remarkable amount of both "it's a brilliant move"/"it's a disaster" from both sides -- all very strong for their various perspectives.

But even if he ascribes the biases too simply, I think Zasloff is right about the basic issue: fundamentally it won't matter much. Maybe she'll help fire up the conservative base a bit, or win them Alaska; maybe she'll prove to be an embarrassment and depress the conservatives or fire up the liberals. But I doubt that it'll make much difference either way.

Although it sure sounds like the pick did one thing, which is knock Obama's speech right out of the single-issue lens of the mass media (and me too, I admit: I am one of those Americans they pander to, I guess). So in the short run it was a gain. (Although given how many people watched it, maybe it doesn't matter. (Incidentally, I'm not one of those 38 million, since I listened to it on the radio rather than watched it on TV.)) But I bet in the long run it won't make much difference either way.

Incidentally, Zasloff's other four points are good too -- especially his defense of Palin's common sense notion that she has no idea what the VP is supposed to do: as he points out, that has been true since the very first VP, John Adams. I think Palin should be attacked, not on this (nor on her experience, as I said below), but along the lines Obama actually did criticize her today*: given that she's on McCain's ticket, she is (presumably) committed to McCain's policies, which are mostly Bush's, which have been a disaster.) It's not who she is or what she's done, but what she -- and more importantly (what with him being the candidate and all) he -- are committed to: a disastrous style of governance that we can't afford four more years of.

* The quote is:
She seems like a compelling person ... with a terrific personal story. I'm sure that she will help make the case for Republicans, unfortunately the case is more of the same, and so ultimately John McCain is at the top of the ticket. He wants to take the country in the wrong direction, I'm assuming Gov. Palin agrees with him and his policies.
Precisely. (Obama then went on to say, wisely and correctly, that notwithstanding this it's good she broke the glass ceiling on the Republican side.)

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