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Friday, August 29, 2008

Milf the Vote

So it's Palin after all; do I get half-credit for guessing close? It's just too bad Straight Talk wasn't feeling quite bold enough to live his dream and pull up Lieberputz for the veep nom. For the amount of gratis ratfucking Holy Joe's been doing, he should get something for his nefarious efforts. Perhaps a Department of Preening Douchebaggery, with Lieberman as its permanent (dick)head and sole occupant.

Palin's actually a decent, inoffensive choice if the goal is to bolster reformist/pro-lifer cred. But that's not been the strategery so far for McCain; his whole schtick has been to lampoon and calumniate his opponent's supposed naïvete and self-indulgent celebrity. Why, to listen to POST tell it, you'd think it was Obama who had the cameo in Wedding Crashers, and had appeared on Jay Leno and Jon Stewart more than a dozen times each, and hosted Saturday Night Live. You'd think that it was Obama's pet lobbyist who nudged Misha Saakashvili to bomb South Ossetia and knowingly provoke the Russians into a border-changing proxy war.

Again, Palin's main advantage right now is her lack of name recognition. And her decision to have her fifth child, who has Down syndrome, will get much play as being an inherently "pro-life" choice. But what people will take from it is that it was a personal choice, which is and always has been the point of that tedious debate. It will win no converts in that sphere, and will probably be insufficient to energize the base enough to remain competitive. They've gotten by on preaching to the choir for so long, they don't know how to stop.

On the other hand, Palin is probably the ideal person for an angry coot to stump with in small towns -- young, pretty, personable, sincere. She'll complement McCain's increasingly glaring shortcomings much better than any of the other potential names. But on the themes the campaign has tried to stress -- foreign policy expertise, experience, judgement, ideological independence -- she can't help but fall short. She'll have to cram on the tour bus, and it'll be obvious.

The debates should be a blowout; if anything, both Obama and Biden will have to hold back on their respective opponents. The instinct of both men is to reiterate and elaborate, and they'd be better off trimming their usual perorations down to efficient portions. It's tempting to try an extensive wind-up in order to land what you think will be a knockout punch, but it's always better to rabbit-punch the kidneys, ribs, and breadbasket first.

McCain will try to POW-POW-POW his way through the debates, and Obama should let him; it is no longer an acceptable rhetorical substitute for his severe lack of judgement and temperament, and even the press knows it. (Incidentally, McCain turns 72 today, which he no doubt would rather not discuss.)

Biden obviously has had a tendency to show his entire hand every time, to explain in comprehensive, frequently excruciating detail the mechanics of policy, and his own role in it. This is understandable, but the more he curbs that in the debate, the less he'll come off as a college professor intellectually berating one of his students. Especially if she lets her hair down.

I thought Obama's speech hit many of the right notes. He will be a much better manager of a fading empire than McCain could possibly be. But two months is a long time for an aphasic populace to retain those images; they are too eager to find the next one to digest and pass through the alimentary canal of their brains. So nothing's guaranteed, obviously. Enough people were dumb enough to at least get someone like Bush close enough to the White House to steal it, so clearly there are no standards.

But ultimately, and too bad for Palin, this is a pick that smacks of desperation, at least operationally. McCain's been the defacto nom for nearly seven months now, and after a couple of last-minute head-fakes (and getting turned down by Colin Powell) he lands on a little-known first-term governor from a practically unpopulated state? I guess as the song says, when you got nothin' you got nothin' to lose.

[Update: After reading this rundown of Palin's hijinks during her brief tenure, clearly I'm being too easy on her. If she really is a god-bothering creationist, that just opens up a whole new level of onslaughts to come. McCain might as well have picked Huckabee in that case. And trying to use your office to get your brother-in-law fired, especially in a politically inbred state like Alaska, sorta puts a cramp in those reformer credentials you're trying to burnish. Ah well, she'll still be much less of a pain in the ass to endure than the rest of the hacks McCain had to choose from.]

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