Wednesday, September 03, 2008


She's Not Going Anywhere

Because of the flurry of various headlines about and around Sarah Palin, already there is some talk of whether her selection as McCain's running mate can survive. The political marketplace is already taking bets.

And The Atlantic's Josh Green has already consulted with several GOP insiders to find out what the process for yanking a nominee is.

Forget it. It's not going to happen. No way. No how.

How can we be so sure? For two reasons:

1) Republicans generally don't dump running mates (Spiro Agnew and Nelson Rockefeller were Watergate-era aberrations). Arguably, George H. W. Bush had greater cause to get rid of Dan Quayle in 1988 (and 1982): Quayle's debut press conference was an immediate embarrassment (unlike Palin's) and immediately caused panic among his handlers. His adequate performance against Lloyd Bentsen was completely overwhelmed by Bentsen's "You're no Jack Kennedy," one-liner. Worse, after becoming VP, Quayle managed to stumble into one malapropism after another, remaining a staple of late-night comedy for the entire Bush I term. Regardless, Poppy Bush stayed with him. This is partly due to how much Republicans internalize their suspicion and hostility toward the mainstream media. The GOP hates to appear that it is surrendering to an elitist liberal media that wants to choose -- and destroy -- its leaders.

2) But, much more significantly, technology has changed things. Twenty or thirty years ago, the immediate storm of negative media against Palin could have overwhelmed a campaign. The only way they could have guaged how "the base" was feeling was via phone calls -- and that would have been very unreliable. The pick, literally, might not have even survived mail coming in one way or another.

That world no longer exists. What the Internet hath taken away from the public discourse -- including discredited rumors and legitimate lines of inquiry for mainstream media outlets to pursue, the Internet hath also given back: Just as Obama was able to go toe-to-toe with and eventually beat back the Clinton machine because of his prodigious 'Net fundraising, Palin has become bulletproof because the conservative base reacted in a clear, unequivocal way -- with their wallets. McCain has reportedly raised some $10 million since Palin's announcement -- nearly 20 percent of McCain's entire August fundraising haul. Conservatives are literally invested in this woman, not merely ideologically, but financially as well.

Dumping her now would look like fiscal fraud as much as ideological betrayal. Further, it would be suicide -- immdediately killing the energy and enthusiasm that the choice has sparked.

McCain may or may not win with Sarah Palin. He would most definitely lose if he dropped her off the ticket now.

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