Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Lipstick Jungle

Sarah Palin has certainly turned into the ultimate game-changer in this campaign: Her convention phrase of the "difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick." has apparently made off-limits the tried and true political putdown "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig." (Indeed, John McCain himself used that line last year, talking about Hillary Clinton bringing back her once-rejected health-care plan in a different form.)

Republicans were smart politically to jump on Barack Obama's comment, feigning insult and demanding an apology. Remarkably, the post-convention storyline has gone along the line that campaign manager Rick Davis predicted a week ago: Issues are not being discussed. Instead, Palin is being used as the ultimate cultural shield (NBC's Chuck Todd used the phrase "deflector shield" on MSNBC's "Morning Joe").

An attack on McCain's policies has been turned into an attack on Sarah Palin (though it clearly wasn't). As in football, so as in politics: A team will use a play -- or "tactic" -- until the other team figures out how to stop it.

The McCain campaign may go to the gender card one time too many.

But until that happens -- or the Obama campaign figures out how to blunt it -- the Democratic ticket is in trouble.

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