Sep 24, 2008

Okay, so I was horribly wrong about Sarah Palin

When Gov. Palin was nominated as the Republican VP candidate, I was positive that it was the last nail in the coffin of the McCain campaign. They were doomed. Nobody had heard of her and it seemed like the most uninformed, last-ditch-effort, purely-politically-motivated "hail mary pass" of all time. I could understand the reasons they did it (women voters, get some attention, Washington outsider, etc.), but I knew it would fall flat on its face. Women aren't going to love her just because she's a woman, you morons, women get excited over Democrats (who talk about education and health care and heart-wrenching stories about poor people struggling to make ends meet -- things women care about more than winning in Iraq or whatever). Just because you nominate a no-name woman doesn't mean the media is going to fall all over you like they did in your glory days, John McCain. And I couldn't help thinking it seemed like a very George-W.-Bush-nominating-whoever-that-random-lady-was-to-the-Supreme-Court-a-while-back-and-everyone-was-like-"huh?"-and-Congress-was-like-"nope" kind of thing to do. The sort of thing that someone who listens to just a few advisors and isn't in touch with the American people does. (That's not change. That's more of the same.)

Man, was I wrong. I still don't agree with the choice, necessarily, but as a political move, it was brilliant. I guess the McCain campaign analyst people know more than I do about what gets people on your side. And what gets them attention. Suddenly Palin's on the cover of every magazine where it used to be Obama (McCain isn't attractive enough to ever be the magazine cover guy). And we've all seen the jump in the polls. Especially among white women. I haven't been alive that long, and didn't follow politics for a good chunk of my not-long life, so this statment means virtually nothing, but I've never known of a VP candidate that has had such an effect on a campaign.

Much has been said about how you'd think the ticket was Palin-McCain, rather than McCain-Palin and how Palin draws far larger crowds than McCain at rallies, and I still keep telling myself it's because she's new blood and people want to get to know her and it's still the bump from the RNC, but then I realize: most Americans know more about Sarah Palin than they do about John McCain already (because she gets talked about in the news) and the RNC and her nomination were almost a month ago (longer than the average American's political attention span, let's be honest). Oh my goodness, it's practically October already. The actual election is going to be any second now. She will be a major factor. There's no getting around that.

The most interesting part to me is the Sarah Palin as an Agent of Change Factor. Apparently the Republicans finally got the memo that people are not happy with the status quo and went "Oh, we need to start talking like Obama is talking." I was amazed when I watched her RNC speech at how "change-y" her rhetoric was. If it wasn't for the sarcasim and a few minor policy bits, I'd think she was speaking at the DNC. I know McCain has always talked about "shaking up Washington" and such, but not as strongly, and definitely not as believably.

And after all of my initial doubt, I realize: she's got my attention, as well. I watched nearly every night of the DNC, because it interested me, but wasn't planning on watching more than McCain's speech at the RNC (and that only out of duty to Political Fairness, and not because I anticipated anything interesting). Once his VP selection was out, though, I couldn't wait to watch her speak. I was caught up wondering with the rest of our country, and came out impressed. People are, of course, more impressive when you go into it expecting a poor performance, but still, she was on the money. When John McCain came out at the end and asked the cheering crowd "Do you think we made the right choice for the next vice president of the United States?", if the CNN cameras had panned to a certain lone viewer on my couch in American Fork, UT, they would find me, with a puzzled look on my face, slowly nodding my head up and down, thinking, "Maybe they are on to something."

Side note: If it's acceptable to write/say "VP" for vice-president, I think it should be acceptable to write/say "P" for president. Wouldn't that be awesome? "John McCain for P!" "Primary votes are in, and it looks like Obama will likely be the Dem's P candidate." In my middle-class-white-person mind, I think "P candidate" sounds kind of gangster. Which is always a good thing.


emilee said...

Intriguing analysis. Oh, and you know the "so and so for P" thing- you were just thinking about me when you came up with that one.

Andrea said...

Obviously I was thinking of you, Emilee...I even thought about mentioning you, but felt that I already mention you too much in my blog and we don't want other people to feel left out.

Anonymous said...

I did the same thing in my head! Palin was announced and it was like ", what?" and a few hours later it was like, "wow, this is like either the stupidist or most genius decision of the campaign" and then a few days after that it really started to lean toward choice B. I still feel like it could have gone the other way though. I still can't really id the factors that made it a brilliant political strategy and not a cocktail party joke, because everything I can think of about Sarah Palin could have contributed to either outcome. What made it swing the right way for the Republicans? (Did that make any sense?)


Anonymous said...

Andrea, you are a brilliant writer.