October 4, 2008


Can They Catch Up?: Of course. (William Kristol, 10/13/2008, Weekly Standard)

The odds are against John McCain and Sarah Palin winning this election. It's not easy to make up a 6-point deficit in the last four weeks. But it can be done.

Look at history. The Gore-Lieberman ticket gained about 6 points in the final two weeks of the 2000 campaign. Ford-Dole came back more than 20 points in less than two months in the fall of 1976. Both tickets were from the party holding the White House, and both were running against inexperienced, and arguably risky, opponents.

What's more, this year's race has already--twice--moved by more than 6 points over a span of only a few weeks. The race went from McCain up 2 (these are the Real Clear Politics averages) on September 14 to Obama plus 6 on October 2, less than three weeks later. In the four weeks before that, the race had moved from Obama plus 5 on August 12 to McCain plus 2 on September 12.

So while there's reason for McCain-Palin supporters to worry, there's no reason to despair. [...]

Character is a legitimate issue. Obama hasn't shown much in the way of leadership or political courage, and he's consorted with dubious figures. It's fair to ask whether Barack Obama is personally trustworthy enough to be president, and the McCain campaign shouldn't be intimidated from going there.

But one shouldn't underestimate the ideological issue, and the potency of the fact that Obama and Biden are orthodox liberals. They're for raising taxes, federally funding abortions, naming activist judges, and losing wars.

...then what in the name of Lincoln and Douglas did a record number of Americans watch the VP debate for? I don't know about you, but anecdotally it seems that an awful lot of people are going to vote for whichever ticket scares them less. Sarah Palin reassured them this week. Now the GOP just has to use the Reverend Wright, Senator Obama's liberal orthodoxy, and his singular lack of accomplishment to raise doubts about whether people can really trust the Executive to him.

The Unicorn Rider's inability to put this race away after the fortnight the House GOP just put Maverick through speaks volumes about how nervous he makes the electorate.

Palin Reignites The Culture War : Her Everywoman act plays well, and the GOP may try again to target Obama as elitist. (Eleanor Clift, 10/03/08, Newsweek)

Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, speaking from the progressive side, said the culture war always matters, but that it may not be decisive, with economic issues making it harder for Republicans to get traction on lampooning Obama as an elitist, in the way they turned John Kerry into a windsurfing Frenchman. Gitlin described the presidential election as a "quadrennial plebiscite of who we are," with Americans casting their vote for the candidate that best embodies who we are as a nation.

Nobody wants to be an elitist. In politics, it's a deadly label. What we saw in Thursday night's debate were two competing strains of populism. Biden, the Irish-Catholic kid from Scranton, represents Main Street populism, the people against the powerful, anti-corporatism, little guy kitchen-table values. Palin is wooing the same working-class constituency that could decide the election in battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania with her pro-gun, family and religious down-to-earth values.

Even though McCain comes from a military aristocracy and married an heiress and Obama's family was on food stamps for a time, Republicans can still make the elitist label stick on Obama, says Yuval Levin with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, speaking from the perspective of the right. "Economic populism almost never triumphs," he said. "It's easier to resent intellectual arrogance than economic success." Obama walked into it with his comments about small-town Americans clinging to their guns and religion along with his comment that he was "embarrassed" that Americans didn't speak more languages.

Obama almost lost the primaries when Hillary Clinton discovered his elitism and turned herself into a beer-chugging Rosie the Riveter. The cultural arsenal is about all McCain has left against Obama, and Levin predicted the last weeks of the campaign could look like the last months of the primaries with McCain highlighting Obama's elitism. It's about character and presentation, Levin continued, and while Obama's mother may have been on food stamps, it was while she was a graduate student studying for a degree in anthropology. Gitlin came back hard, saying we should be embarrassed that we don't know more languages....

You can't make it up.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 4, 2008 10:16 AM
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