Utne Blogs > Politics

The Republicans’ Desperate Measures

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: Politics, Election 2008, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, DNC, speeches, vice president, CNN, TPM,

Sarah PalinHere’s what the Republicans have mustered this week: A DNC counteroffensive that mocked the Democrats' stage and blather about how 80,000-plus people showing up for a political speech is somehow a bad thing. And now there’s this: A seemingly last-minute, hail-mary VP pick driven by the now-stale strategy of luring disgruntled Hillary supporters.

Word broke this morning that Sarah Palin is McCain’s pick. The first-term Alaska governor is so unknown on the national stage that CNN’s breaking coverage of the nod was basically a rewrite of the governor’s web bio.

She’s got ethics reform on her short resume (and an ethics investigation) and some green credentials. But most importantly and most obviously she is a woman. Why else would McCain throw his experience mantra under the bus? To paraphrase Josh Marshall, If you’re a 72-year-old cancer survivor running for president you better pick someone who’s ready to step up, especially if your entire campaign is based on your EXPERIENCE.

Here in Minnesota, we’re all buzzing about what doomed Governor Tim Pawlenty’s chances. (Our office pool was a boring failure, since everyone picked Pawlenty.) He was the frontrunner in chatter yesterday, had canceled his week’s schedule, and then suddenly broke the Republicans’ tightly controlled message management and—not sounding too happy about things—told a local radio station that it was a “fair assumption” that he wasn’t going to be the veep. That leaves the impression of a last-minute decision, one forced by the unexpected strength of Obama’s performance last night.

While Democrats—egged on by Republican teasing—stewed in doubts about Obama not hitting back hard enough, or Obama leaving himself open for sucker punches by going on vacation, or their ranks not being unified, the Obama team clearly had a plan. They let McCain’s people play in the mud for the whole of August. And in one fell swoop of a speech, dispatched with each and every tactic in the Pubs’ playbook. The speech was smart, and, given the Republican response to it last night, it was clearly unexpected.

Now, it’s not even September, and the McCain team has been forced to chisel away at their best card—the experience card. It’s time Democrats—particularly the pundits out chattering to the media—stop letting Republicans get their goat and leave the self-doubt thing behind.

Image by Ryan McFarland, licensed under Creative Commons.