Take a long, slow breath. Relax. Slow down. Don't hurry. Wait a bit.
This is my advice to everyone about the selection of the almost-totally-unknown Sarah Palin as the GOP vice presidential nominee.
Note: this column was written before the revelation that Gov. Palin's 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant — a fact conveniently omitted when she was announced as veep last Friday. All the more reason to wait, as no one yet really knows Sarah Palin, including John McCain. You can bet the McCain staff is now apoplectic over what they do not know about their new running mate.
None of us knows much about her, and what we do know comes from Team McCain, an entirely un-trustworthy group with a motive to spin her the way they want. Her announcement speech was written by McCain's alter ego, Mark Salter, a complete manipulator.
We all need to slow down and wait a bit to see Sarah Palin in action and to see what may surface about her.
Here is what we do know:John McCain and his high command believe they are substantially behind the Obama/Biden ticket and thus they threw a Hail Sarah pass; the public daily tracking polls, which show this nationally as a three-point race at the moment belie the crucial state polls which worried Team McCain.McCain offered the veep slot after just one substantive meeting with her — a stunning way to make the most important decision of your life, after selecting your spouse! And speaking of marriage, would anyone in their right mind propose on the first date? No! But he offers her this crucial position based on some mild staff vetting and then just one meeting? The conservative Christian right did the same thing as McCain and has fallen head-over-heels in love with her virtually overnight. Why? Because they do not like McCain, are not happy with what the Bush presidency devolved into and, most importantly, they want to believe in someone.
We have already seen the right swoon twice before in this 2008 election cycle: first in the summer of 2007 with Fred Thompson as he leaked out his plans to run (they soon fell out of love when they saw an unambitious candidate even though what he said made a lot of sense) and then last December with the rise of Mike Huckabee. In fact, that love affair was an exact replica of this Palin affair; he zoomed out of nowhere backed by fervent Christian conservatives and cornered that segment of the GOP caucus vote in Iowa.
However, Huckabee, too, flamed out over time. He was unable to grow that support beyond his base.Palin is so new that it will take a while to see whether her initial popularity on the right will endure and spread to other constituencies. Or will she too flame out?McCain may see himself as a GOP maverick. But team Obama will paint him as the third term of Bush and that message is hitting home. In the most recent NBC/WSJ poll, 77 percent of voters believe McCain will continue the policies of the Bush administration. No matter how hard the McCain campaign tries to portray the GOP ticket as two mavericks, they are running an uphill battle to see that notion take hold nationally.
And now here is the real kicker: Barack Obama ain't dumb. He and his super-sharp strategist, David Axelrod, now know one thing: If Sarah Palin somehow crashes and burns, then McCain will be destroyed in November. So you can bet their opposition research team is operating at full speed. All they have to do is dig up something damaging to Palin, and that will guarantee Obama's election.
This is exactly why McCain's hasty vetting and decision-making process is so suspect. And yet another reason why the GOP never should have nominated McCain in the first place.
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