How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child!
After the economic news — we are now practicing some form of vulgar big-ticket corporatism while hoping the roof doesn't fall in — the biggest news yesterday had to be the fault lines suddenly appearing in the McCain-Palin ticket.
Contrary to the 'straight talk' by McCain about how he routinely consults Palin, it is obvious that she is very much the eighteenth banana when it comes to the decisions that matter: campaign strategy. Thus it was no surprise to learn that McCain's tactically understandable but strategically stupid decision to visibly abandon Michigan was made without Palin. (Tactically, McCain has no hope of carrying Michigan, so every dollar spent there is a waste. And dollars are very rationed given the decision to rely on federal funding. That said, strategically this was no time to be seen to waving a white flag, and the political cost – embracing the stench of failure – will outweigh any financial benefits.)
So long as Palin was a political basket case — cf. the Couric tapes — she had to hunker down and hide behind McCain's skirts. But if the debate changed next to nothing in the electoral math, we can now see that it changed everything in the McCain-Palin relationship.
As the Palin-invigorated Gail Collins put in the New York Times, 'The Republicans were euphoric over Sarah Palin’s debate performance, particularly the part in which she stood tall and refrained from falling off the stage.'
That turns out to win almost no new votes, but it did make the base — pretty much the same people who drove the economy over the cliff — feel a lot better.
And thus, at least within the GOP, Palin moves from political basket case to political barracuda. And the first chomp comes out of McCain's hide: Palin can read the polls. They polls all say that she is not going to be Vice-President next January. So McCain becomes another body for her to step on. If the ticket is dead, the real game becomes the Presidential nomination in 2012. And it's therefore critical for Palin to sow the seeds of a narrative that it was Not Her Fault but rather that of the old, tired, impulsive, stupid McCain and his crew.
An so here it is. Act One of our modern Lear:
Decision On Michigan Questioned By Palin. Sarah Palin questioned Republican presidential candidate John McCain's decision to abandon efforts to win Michigan, a campaign move she said she learned about Friday morning when she read it in the newspapers.
In an interview with Fox News Channel Friday, the Alaska governor said she was disappointed that the McCain campaign decided to stop competing in Michigan. In an indication that the vice presidential candidate had not been part of the decision, she said she had “read that this morning, and I fired off a quick e-mail” questioning the move.
“Todd and I, we'd be happy to get to Michigan and walk through those plants of the car manufacturers,” Palin said. “We'd be so happy to get to speak to the people in Michigan who are hurting because the economy is hurting.”
Of course Palin would love to go to Michigan. There are no electoral votes there for the current ticket, there's nothing in it for McCain, but Palin's argument, no more specious than many others, will be that she has a chance to stitch together the Reagan coalition in 2012, and the lunchpail vote is critical element of that coalition. But saying so out loud only harms McCain. Which is why she did it.
I await, sans bated breath, the stories in Sunday's paper about rivalry and dissension at the top of the Republican ticket.
(Kindred spirit: Emptywheel, Mich-Again)