Posts Tagged ‘Field Marshal Turkmenromney’

Palin’s debate strategy was dog-whistle white rural populism. Pure and simple Nixon playbook. Worked for him, worked for Reagan (Philadelphia and the welfare queens, set in the context of a long, racist record.) Race is significant but it isn’t everything: Bush Sr. could pull off the racism but couldn’t fake folksy next to Bubba Clinton. It’s a 2-part game essentially:

1) I am like you

2) They are not like us

The first part is the aw-shucks shit-kickin’ Where I’m from stuff. For the second part, they’ve added religion to the Obama equation to create a sort of compound Nation of Islam slash black liberation theology slash atheist character; (no one said it was internally coherent.)

Here’s a clarification: This approach is different from economic populism. Why? Economic populism can be translated directly into policy. Whether you agree or disagree with the arguments, saying CEO’s make too much money or that oil companies don’t need tax cuts is policy-translatable. If you talk about the middle class in your home town in terms of putting pay caps in the bailout or changing the tax structure, you can campaign on those details. And it’s a fair debate as to whether they’re good policies.

But this isn’t about that, this is I was born in a small town for everyday hard-workin’ ‘muricans from Main Street. It’s instinctively anti-intellectual, blames “eastern elites” for most everything, and features bow-tied pundits and New Yorkers unironically whining about “cosmopolitanism.” (PS this historically means “Jews.”) The leading lights of the party attack community organizers, and the party insists there’s no racial overtones even while the Pied Piper of Douchebaggery compares the profession to “thugs.”

Palin brought out I am like you in full force last night. (She didn’t bring They aren’t like us for two reasons: First, it works better in TV ads and speeches where it can’t be directly challenged; and second, obviously Biden is not the target.) So wrap yourself in a flag and a tractor for some highlights from the debate transcript:

…Joe Six-pack…

…hockey moms…

…let’s do what our parents told us…

…middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives…

…Main Streeters like me….

…great American hero General Petraeus…

… dictators who hate America and hate what we stand for, with our freedoms…

…Oh, yeah, it’s so obvious I’m a Washington outsider….

…we need a little bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street there, brought to Washington, DC….

… god bless her, her reward is in heaven, right?…

…And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people…

…my connection to the heartland of America…

…America is a nation of exceptionalism…

…I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter, even, of the mainstream media…

…East Coast politicians…

…average, everyday American family like mine….

I don’t know if anyone remembers this, but watching the debate I just pictured the McCain strategists sitting around a table chanting “ONE OF US! ONE OF US!” as debate preparation.

So in terms of “winners?” I think Palin held up quite well considering they’d lowered the standards to the point where, as a friend of mine said, “the only way she can ‘lose’ is to call for the extermination of the Jews.” That said, it wasn’t a game-changer. She still looked like a student who’d pulled an all-nighter prepping for comps.

As for Senator Biden, he was fine. No runs, no hits, no errors. It wasn’t his debate to win or lose. He’s a known quantity, and no one would’ve tuned in to watch him debate Tim Pawlenty or Field Marshal Turkmenromney. The only unscripted moment was when he got choked up about being a single dad:

“The notion that somehow, because I’m a man, I don’t know what it’s like to raise two kids alone,’’ he said, “[that] I don’t know what it’s like to have a child you’re not sure is going to — is going to make it — I understand.’’

(Thing is, Biden has has cried before.)  The Senator was notably disciplined.  As Klein points out: While it may have been frustrating at times, it does speak well about Biden’s commitment to the ticket.)

So, summary? Palin beat expectations, but nothing consequential happened.

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Yep, it’s come to that. So a couple items:

Item the First: Palin Girls Live! Live! Live! The Baltimore/Washington Examiner, a reliable if right-wing free daily, ran some photos of Bristol Palin from TMZ today. Among others:

Begs the obvious question: Was she drinking when she was pregnant? (And, if not, then this means she was likely 16 rather than 17 when she boarded the Captain’s ship. The full set of photos is available here. The Christian Right appears prepared to forgive the baby, (it just shows she doesn’t use Godless condoms!) but the Myspace-type tonguing another girl might not come off so harmless.

Item the Second: Executive Experience: Americans haven’t elected a Senator since Jack Kennedy. Obviously that will change this year, but it does reflect the public’s greater comfort with executive-level candidates as opposed to legislative ones. So just a bit of trivia to consider: FY 07 – 08 budget for Wasilla, Alaska: $13 million. Barack Obama July 2008 fundraising (just July): $51 million.

Consider just how effective the entire campaign has been: no major leaks, no really preventable scandals [Wright included,] effective responses to problems when they do arise, a strong VP choice, dynamic outreach, epic fundraising, and a bouncy convention.) Eighteen months of running such a tight campaign, that alone has to be some kind of credit to the Democratic ticket. Especially since, as Hillary showed us, the inmates always want to run the asylum.

Item the Third: Biblioclasm: There’s your SAT word. As Mayor of the aforementioned small town, the Right Reverend Palin decided to cleanse the naughty from the local library. Time magazine recalls:

“…Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.”

Is the Mayor even capable of firing a town librarian? More important question, are we seriously discussing a small-town Mayor’s proclivity for book-banning in the context of a national election? Justice Potter Stewart wrote: “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.” See, we’re not supposed to do that in America. Now, maybe in Free Alaska

Item the Fourth: Will she quit? I don’t know if I trust the political prediction markets. They seemed to get Biden, but missed with Palin. Anyway, all they do is essentially trade on composite public information, rather than offering special insight. That said, InTrade had odds on a Palin withdrawal set originally around 3%. However, they rose as high as 18% today before settling around 12%. It’s not just the baby mama drama – Palin is also facing impeachment back at home.

Quick and unsupportable prediction is, no. As bad as the pick has been, it’s too late for second-guessing. She followed a process in which Rove wanted Romney, McCain wanted Lieberman, and Palin won out. Replacing her with ex-Dem Lieberman or pro-choice Ridge would be a big fat “fuck you” to the far-rightists who just ponied up, and McCain plain old hates Field Marshal Turkmenromney. With the convention passing, it’s too late to introduce a no-name like Pawlenty or Portman. Newt Gingrich? There’s just no Plan B at this stage, so get used to Palin.

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Palin has been my nightmare scenario for the longest. That’s not to say she doesn’t have significant, exploitable weaknesses. It’s just that she also has what the basketball scouts call “tremendous upside potential,” mainly in the PR department. With a wholesome family, nice looks and a folksy, heartland-ish style, she could be a killer. It won’t take much for the loquacious Biden to overplay his hand and look like he’s hitting a girl, while the right-brigades get to work setting expectations unconscionably low.

Besides, it’s not like the Republicans had a great backbench to pick from. Huckabee would’ve been a strong choice, but was apparently never even vetted. Bobby Jindal, fatty Limbaugh’s Reagan 2.0, could be top-ticket material in 2012 or 2016 so he wasn’t going anywhere yet. Ridge is pro-choice and mainly known for duct tape, while Lieberman can’t pull in Jews any more and Pawlenty is a non-entity like Rob Portman. Field Marshal Turkmenromney looks like a used car salesman, even if daddy’s carcass would’ve delivered Michigan.

I will say, seeing the immediate response has somewhat alleviated my worry about the impact of the Palin pick. Still though, she’s far and away the best of ’em tactically. Here’s a list of some variables to consider with Alaska’s Next Top Model:

The womyn thing. Peeling off a couple percent of the Clintonista dead-enders could be crucial in a close election. On the other hand, Palin’s total lack of experience, name-recognition or past relationship with McCain suggests pretty blatantly that this is a private-parts-pander. Hopefully, this is just demeaning enough to turn off at least as many people as it sways. The Governor is hard-right on abortion and NARAL is already rolling out the big guns. (Mireille will bring us a little more feminist analysis on Palin coming up soon.)

All in the family. They call her husband the “first dude” of Alaska. She has a son in Iraq and one with Down’s Syndrome. The Palins are straight from heartland central casting, with five kids named “Bristol,” “Piper,” “Track,” “Trig” and “Willow.” Governor Palin is a plainspoken hockey mom, which makes her light years better for public consumption than another wrinkly old white man.

Reaffirming the narrative. Someone on CNN just used the term “bit of a maverick.” Well fuck. me. This, more than anything, is why I’m afraid of the Palin pick. The press loves McCain. The shine is coming off a bit, but there’s only eight weeks left to undo eight years of unfiltered adulation. In Governor Palin’s first speech Friday, she claimed to have stood up to lobbyists, “challenged the status quo,” and appointed Democrats to her administration, as well as trashing the “bridge to nowhere.” In terms of messaging, Palin is the best the GOP could have done to both counter Obama with their own hope/change/ponies while re-enforcing the maverick myth.

But is Palin into bondage? That should score this site some cheap hits. Really though, it’s just a reacharound to the Quayle question. (Yes, that link is both explanatory and safe for work.) Some of the regulars on Daily Kos today drew the comparison, which belies a dangerous underappreciation of the gullibility of Americans. See, people tend to forget that Quayle won. George Bush the Elder’s choice of Thunder Dan was both a sop to both the right-wing base and an effort to make the ticket less geriatric. But despite the debate thrashing, and all the late-night humor, Bush and Quayle never relinquished their convention bounce. Just because someone is inexperienced, ineloquent and a world-historical risk on the heartbeat test doesn’t mean they won’t carry forty states. Underestimate at your own risk.

So those are the things that scare me. In terms of her liabilities, Palin had literally met the candidate one time before today; “hasn’t really focused much” on the war in Iraq; and basically doesn’t have a position on it. Barack Obama may have less foreign policy experience than his Veep, but he’s been in the Senate for four years and sits on both the Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees. Also, the simple fact that he’s been running for President for eighteen months (!) means briefings briefings briefings in addition to his Senate portfolio. Compared with this, Palin spent two terms as a City Councilwoman and then six years more as Mayor of a town of 6,000 people. This is not a credible running mate for a man who, as Mireille likes to put it, “is older than the zip code.” At best, they get on stage together and he looks like her father; at worst, “I’m Chris Hansen and I’m with Dateline NBC.”  (PS someone forward her a job description plz.)

If you want more reasons to laugh at this pick, Andrew Sullivan appears / to / be / collecting / them. In short, it’s a double or nothing pick. Palin strengthens McCain’s mavericky home-spun bullshitter image and fits neatly into his “Country First” campaign slogan. On the other hand, she really wasn’t vetted well and one Republican strategist colorfully compared the pick to “playing poker blind.”

So then, to answer the Lenin question. Attacking Palin is extremely risky. She’s folksy and attractive, so going right at her even on policy matters is a losing proposition. Best to respond by kindly and carefully ignoring her. Palin adds zero substance to the ticket, and John McCain is looking like a larger target after both the housing gaffe and the truly pitch-perfect Democratic convention. Pound the hell out of McCain, let Palin shake some hands, pray on a very long-shot that she gets impeached back home, and keep on keepin’ on.

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