Rebecca Traister, who has been covering gender politics for Salon for some time now, has an interesting column up in which she sorts through her feelings about Palin
Nate Silver looks at the big picture. I remember him posting that graph before the conventions and thinking "man, i hope he's wrong... McCain's going to take the lead!?" Now, of course, I'm hoping he's right. So far he's got a great record.
The Obama campaign ratchets up the rhetoric
David Ignatius, Steve Chapman and Michael Kinsley are all nonplussed with McCain's recent behavior
No longer able to remember his principles any better than he can distinguish between Sunnis and Shia, McCain stands revealed as a guy who can be easily rolled by anyone who sells him a plan for "victory," whether in Iraq or in Michigan. A McCain victory on Election Day will usher in a Palin presidency, with McCain serving as a transitional front man, an even weaker Bush to her Cheney.
The ambitious Palin and the ruthless forces she represents know it, too. You can almost see them smacking their lips in anticipation, whether they're wearing lipstick or not.
This was made clear in the most chilling passage of Palin's acceptance speech. Aligning herself with "a young farmer and a haberdasher from Missouri" who "followed an unlikely path to the vice presidency," she read a quote from an unidentified writer who, she claimed, had praised Truman: "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity." Then Palin added a snide observation of her own: Such small-town Americans, she said, "run our factories" and "fight our wars" and are "always proud" of their country. As opposed to those lazy, shiftless, unproud Americans — she didn't have to name names — who are none of the above.
There were several creepy subtexts at work here. The first was the choice of Truman. Most 20th-century vice presidents and presidents in both parties hailed from small towns, but she just happened to alight on a Democrat who ascended to the presidency when an ailing president died in office. Just as striking was the unnamed writer she quoted. He was identified by Thomas Frank in The Wall Street Journal as the now largely forgotten but once powerful right-wing Hearst columnist Westbrook Pegler.
Palin, who lies with ease about her own record, misrepresented Pegler's too. He decreed America was "done for" after Truman won a full term in 1948. For his part, Truman regarded the columnist as a "guttersnipe," and with good reason. Pegler was a rabid Joe McCarthyite who loathed F.D.R. and Ike and tirelessly advanced the theory that American Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe ("geese," he called them) were all likely Communists.
Surely Palin knows no more about Pegler than she does about the Bush doctrine. But the people around her do, and they will be shaping a Palin presidency. That they would inject not just Pegler's words but spirit into their candidate's speech shows where they're coming from. Rick Davis, the McCain campaign manager, said that the Palin-sparked convention created "awhole new Republican Party," but what it actually did was exhume an old one from its crypt.
This election is still about the fierce urgency of change before it's too late. But in framing this debate, it isn't enough for Obama to keep presenting McCain as simply a third Bush term. Any invocation of the despised president — like Iraq — invites voters to stop listening. Meanwhile, before our eyes, McCain is turning over the keys to his administration to ideologues and a running mate to Bush's right.
As Republicans know best, fear does work. If Obama is to convey just what's at stake, he must slice through the campaign's lipstick jungle and show Americans the real perils that lie around the bend.
Joe Klein on neoconservatives:
neoconservatives style themselves as intellectuals, but they shy away from proper conversations about facts and ideas. Though some are erudite, and some even polite, their public face in magazines like the Standard and Commentary--with a few notable exceptions--is quite different: they are, at base, ideologues not intellectuals, propagandists not journalists, thugs not thinkers.
The last thought for the day comes from Chris Cillizza:
Republicans have always -- or at least for as long as the Fix memory lasts -- adopted a realpolitik approach to political campaigns.
That is, they use tactics that work -- whether or not they are "fair". Republicans are, typically, far less concerned about the approval of newspaper editorial boards and the so called "eastern media elite" than their Democratic counterparts, a fact that allows them almost total freedom when it comes to how they conduct their campaigns.
Democrats, on the other hand, always promise to play as down and dirty as Republicans but when the rubber hits the road tend to back off somewhat.
The one Democratic politician in recent memory who didn't follow that blueprint was Bill Clinton; it's no accident he is the last Democrat to win elected office.
In the frame of campaign politics, "fair" doesn't really matter. Effective and persuasive do.
I don't condone this but state it merely as fact.