Democratic strategist Peter Feld, who recently warned Radar readers that the polls are indeed bad news, checks in occasionally to rain on your parade. Today he explains the visceral appeal of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
I wouldn't have counted on Maureen Dowd to illustrate the cluelessness of the liberal media who are losing the election for Obama. But she did. The conceit of today's Dowd column — burdened, as so many of hers are, with an ill-fitting pop culture framework (My Fair Lady, this time) — is that Sarah Palin's interview later today with ABC's Charlie Gibson is a moment of high peril for the putatively unprepared VP candidate. Dowd mirthfully suggests a few questions for Gibson to ask Palin, such as: "Why was Sarah for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against the Bridge to Nowhere, and why was she for earmarks before she was against them? And doesn't all this make her just as big a flip-flopper as John Kerry?" It's a question a lot of the fight-the-last-war press seems to be asking. The savaging of Kerry four years ago still rankles Joe Conason, whose Observer column today about Palin is subtitled: "She was for ill-conceived pork projects before she was against them." And, like Dowd, Clarence Page still expects America to wake up and notice that McCain didn't vet Palin sufficiently. Like Dowd — and the Obama campaign — Page believes that when Americans learn that Palin once supported the bridge boondoggle she now boasts of stopping, her selection will "backfire" on McCain. And Politico counts yesterday — a day when six fresh polls showed McCain even or ahead of Obama — as an Obama victory, because his campaign had succeeded in getting the media to fact-check Palin's bridge-blocking claims. "Bridge to nowhere" is an apt name for this Obama strategy. What Obama ("You can't just make stuff up!") and his sputtering media supporters miss is that the "for-it-before-I-was-against-it" quote damaged Kerry, not because America hates a flip-flopper, but because it captured exactly what made him seem so ridiculous. It was a line Kerry had used on himself, something Palin would never do. Palin may be many things — unprepared, phony, right-wing, LensCrafter model, aerial wolf-hunter — but she's not John Kerry. Her appeal, as at least Tom Friedman seems to understand, is visceral, not logical. The swing voters who have to decide between McCain and Obama recognize themselves in her, something the Obama campaign considers unimportant. The indignant, sputtering media think that they can undo that appeal with careful fact-checking of Palin's record. Good luck — if someone doesn't wake up soon, it looks like you'll have the chance to fact-check Palin for the next four years.