Thursday, October 02, 2008

Joe Biden

While Sarah Palin did well enough to stay on the ticket, she didn't do a damned thing to advance the "Obama is too dangerous to be President" narrative for the McCain campaign, focused much more on damage control for her own career and, as Paul Begala rightly pointed out, 2012. If McCain continues to sink in the polls, look for her to move away from him emotionally (even further) in the final week or two. He needs her now more than she needs him, especially to get big crowds and especially after tonight, and since the only ideology she truly seems committed to is her own ambition I'm imagining the repellent nature of the loser stench will extend from downticket Republicans to Palin herself by November 4th, unless he pulls within 5 points and 20 Electoral College votes of Obama again, seriously.

On the other hand, Joe Biden successfully advanced the narrative tying John McCain to George W. Bush as more of the same. He was particularly brilliant in taking apart the maverick meme, finding a perfect opening after Palin relied on calling herself and McCain their own nickname a third time too many. (Who gives themselves nicknames or even touts them in the real world without looking like a fool?) He knowledgeably took apart that meme, so now the more McCain says it, the more we'll remember Joe proving that McCain has never been a maverick where it really counted in people's lives.

The other phrase for such a non-helpful maverick is, of course, juvenile delinquent.

Biden also took apart Dick Cheney, wailed on McCain as wrong on the war etc. in perfect echo of Obama's strongest moment last Friday night, offered real rather than index card, off-question answers, and had the perfect demeanor vs. the over-wired, winking and jiving Ms. Palin. While she was a little less snarky than in the past, a little less McNasty, she nonetheless blew not only the name of a general (hearkening back to the Civil War), but she blew the biggest moment of the debate, when Joe Biden revealed his humanity and she could only respond with another rehearsed, off-moment talking point:

But the real campaign news of the day is that McCain is pulling up stakes in Michigan. He's on the run now, trying to hold the states George Bush won in 2004. While there could still be a mini-swing or two back to McCain before the election, this does mean he's making hard choices on where to put diminishing resources, which also means Obama can get aggressive more places, maybe lead McCain to have to defend, say, North Carolina more aggressively. This also means McCain will go untethered now -- expect to see vicious smears both above and below the radar of the most dishonest or immoral kind.

Maybe there's a moment when McCain realizes he can't win the election, or when some GOP honchos make that realization and put a bridle on him for the good of the country or just to start rebuilding the reputation of the Party. As Biden said in the debate, McCain is offering no coherent, realistic plans for anything, so what does he have to run on but negative campaigning?

But I think guys like McCain go down the hardest. And for Republicans, when all else fails, there's still this angle to fall back on:

As they say in Chicago: Vote early, vote often.

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