As is his wont, Fred Barnes invites us to speculate as to worst-case scenarios.
Whatever post-convention bounce McPalin enjoyed appears to be gone, supplanted by a sense that their American Idol dog-and-pony show is worth fuck-all in the face of a potentially catastrophic economic situation. These people are clowns and liars -- showboating buffoons with no ideas, no knowledge, and no curiosity as to how to handle problems. Over the past month or so, McCain has insisted that he knows how to find bin Laden, win wars, and fix the economy. One asks politely why the hell he has yet to do any of those things then, or to even proffer any viable solutions to his colleagues in the Senate or the current occupants of the office he seeks.
(And really, the next time McCain asserts that he "knows how to win wars", it would be helpful if the person he's speaking to responds with a request for him to produce an example. That should be entertaining, though not quite as entertaining as Barnes trying to convince his hordes of saps that empty jabber and listing approval ratings are good things.)
Which proves only that Alaska Republicans are as obstinate and irrational as their continental counterparts. And it's nice that Barnes thinks that the problems he listed "either don't exist anymore or aren't as significant in 2008". It's not as if the perpetual election campaign hasn't sucked all the oxygen out of all those other stories, which are indeed still relevant and significant.
Barnes goes on to talk about the British Tories' rejuvenation against a stagnant Labour Party, as if Tony Blair's association with (and steadfast refusal to repudiate) Fredo hadn't tainted that brand sufficiently. It is, Fred may have noticed, the same reason Bush has only appeared in public to stroke everyone over the impending economic collapse, and hasn't been seen in public with McCain in months. Cheney is also nowhere to be found. These are not the actions of the incumbent leaders of a resurgent brand.
Barnes is bold in putting the date of September 29 on his column. McCain has already been uncomfortably exposed as an increasingly empty candidate in genuine danger of being overshadowed by his neophyte running mate, who in turn has been overexposed as a typical backwater cronyist who knows nothing about the world beyond her state broders, and who is clearly in waaaayyy over her head, no matter how much or how desperately they try to prep her. Most people with an IQ above room temperature are already at the point of asking "what next" when they hear Palin's name, just three weeks into her "getting to know you" phase. They know her now, and while she might be a perfectly good neighbor or mayor, she is not qualified to occupy the newly-empowered office of vice-president. Barnes can thank Cheney for that one.
By the time Barnes' pro-forma date rolls around, the first debate between Obama and McCain will have been held. And while Obama's supposedly professorial demeanor may still be off-putting the emotionally unstable who project their anxieties and ignorance upon their political representatives, the fact is that he is a much better extemporaneous thinker and speaker than McCain. And now that people are losing their homes and jobs and pensions in droves, more of these chuckleheads are starting to pay attention past the peripheral nonsense they've been indulging in.
We'll see -- the older I get, the more I believe that Mencken was an optimist -- but if I were Barnes, I wouldn't be counting my Palins before they're even incubated, much less ready to hatch. People are starting to figure this broad out, and the numbers show it.