September 4, 2008

LETTING MAVERICK BE MAVERICK:

How Palin changed the race (JOHN F. HARRIS & JIM VANDEHEI, 9/4/08, Politico)

[I]n the space of one 36-minute speech by Palin, McCain proved that his choice was not a lapse into temporary (or even permanent) insanity. The speech’s political significance goes far beyond the fact that Palin showed herself capable of delivering a spirited reading of words that other people wrote. [...]

It is hard to overstate how underwhelmed most Republicans are by McCain and the current cast of GOP leaders. This was especially true of social conservatives, many of them religious evangelicals, who are most thrilled by Palin.

Now that Palin has cleared the bar — truth be told, a fairly modest one — of delivering an effective speech, McCain has much more flexibility to follow his own instincts.

He can play up reformist rhetoric and play down socially conservative ideology — the exact combination that in 2004 had some liberal commentators hoping McCain would abandon the GOP and go on the Democratic ticket.

Before Wednesday night, McCain was in big trouble when it comes to mobilizing conservative faithful. Now, Palin can help the party organize and turn out the same base of Christian evangelicals, Second Amendment supporters and abortion-rights opponents that proved instrumental to the back-to-back George W. Bush victories.

Before Wednesday night, McCain had little room for error with the right. They measured every word and made him pay for straying too far on the issues they care most about. Now, McCain can stretch and twist like a yoga instructor.


If only he could, he'd certainly look better on stage.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 4, 2008 9:08 PM
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