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John McCain out-planned Barack Obama. That is the summary of what happened this last week. Senator Obama apparently planned on the normal course of events as he prepared for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. He made a number of assumptions along the way, assumptions which were apparent enough that McCain was able to use them in his own planning. Obama assumed, for example, that a few symbolic gestures would mollify Hillary and her supporters, and that in a short matter of time he would have all but a few of them under his banner, ideally working for his election but at least not working against him. He assumed that McCain would stay out of his way during that week, and that he would have not only the convention time but also the weekend after to enjoy the glow of a successful run to the nomination. He assumed that the media, which has been overwhelmingly in his corner all through the year, would make sure the spotlight stayed on Obama. On all three assumptions, Senator McCain took advantage of errors by Obama and played them to his own advantage.

McCain understood that the race was close, but that Obama's nomination would likely give him a "bounce", in real terms boosting his lead and making it more and more difficult for McCain to look to undecided voters as someone who could win. Therefore, McCain needed to do something unexpected, something which proved him a viable candidate. Part of this was accomplished through Obama's double-fumble in selecting his running mate. First, Obama not only did not choose Hillary Clinton for his VP spot, an understandable choice and it is quite unlikely that she would have accepted the offer anyway, but Obama failed to vet her for the short list, and in so doing displayed a lack of respect to Hillary's 18 million supporters. While it is true that for the most part, those voters will come around and vote for Obama anyway, some will sit out the election because of the way Clinton was treated, and some had already warned they would swing support over to McCain in 2008, in order to give Clinton the best opportunity for 2012. The second fumble was Obama's selection of Biden, a move which is tactically foolish, because it effectively highlights Obama's own limitations while gaining nothing among undecided voters. This left the door open for McCain to make significant gains through his own choice, an opportunity which would have been far smaller if Obama had handled his side of the aisle better than he did.

The selection of Sarah Palin is brilliant to a far greater degree than it is risky. Analysis of her credentials has already shown Palin to be strong in many areas, and what areas of weakness she has is matched to a more serious degree on the Democrats' side. Choosing Palin will probably not win over additional Clinton supporters, but that was not the object - what matters is that McCain has not lost any ground with the Clinton supporters he already held, something the Obama camp is not mentioning, indeed he may not yet understand that fact. The timing of the Palin selection is also significant, having destroyed the Obama publicity campaign intended for this weekend. All the talk is about Palin. And the media, while it leans left most of the time, is now as it always was, about the big story, and Palin is simply a much bigger story than Biden ever could be.

The move is not yet complete, however. McCain gambled a bit of his own attention this week. Hurricane Gustav could steal some attention away from the GOP convention, especially as there is no suspense left about who will be in the VP slot. Having played the first half so well, it remains to be seen how well McCain has planned the second half of the convention operettas.


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Comments (26)

Obama rose to the occasion ... (Below threshold)

Obama rose to the occasion on Thursday night and gave a magnificent speech to 84,000 people with millions watching on tv about the urgency of changing course for the better in America. He detailed in no uncertain terms the failings of the Bush administration and what failings to expect of a McCain presidency. He outlined his plans for America, and outlined how he would pay for it. The passion and sincerety of his words resonated to such a degree that a high percentage of viewers were moved to tears.

McCain through cynical and conniving "timing" knew that he had to bury the speech. He couldn't very well respond to it directly. How could he adequately address the strength of Obama's speech and the awesomeness of the DNC as a whole? How could he offer anything remotely comparable to Obama's bold sincerety and vision for the United States of America. How could he respond to the first black man nominated to a major party ticket in history on the anniversary of MLK's famous speech? Better to ignore it and somehow bury it with some sensational story, regardless of its merit. Ahhh, the PERFECT SOLUTION!! Anounce a completely unknown, one-term gov, pretty WOMAN to the VP position!!! Beautiful!!! Beautiful conniving, cynical politics in action!! What more could be hope for from the Republicans!?

So McCain went ahead and announced Sarah Palin as his running mate, and sure enough, the media was obliged to go gaga over this completely incomprehensible turn of events. WHO IS SARAH PALIN? She's a WOMAN and PRETTY! Let's keep running looping close-ups of her face over and over as we discuss just who this woman is.

Wow.. boy did McCain sure score. He is quite the smart one there. He only had one meeting with Sarah Palin, but that was enough for him to determine two very important bits of criteria: 1) she's a WOMAN and 2.) she's PRETTY!!

WOW, that's means she'll be charming JUST LIKE OBAMA! AND! She'll gain all those disgruntled Hillary supporters! All we have to do is have her say, "Hey WOMEN!! REMEMBER HOW HILLARY ALMOST GOT THERE!! WELL, I CAN TAKE IT ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!!! REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT I AM OPPOSED TO EVERYTHING HILLARY STANDS FOR!!!"



"YAY McCAIN FOR HAVING T... (Below threshold)


Mik, you misogynistic tool. You're the one here fully admitting that you see "underestimating the intelligence of Clinton's supporters" as "appropriate".

As a matter of fact, you've demonstrated clearly your own myopic vision of anyone not voting for Obama as "unintelligent".

Cram it, pal.

Methinks there's a bit of f... (Below threshold)

Methinks there's a bit of frustration with MIK, poor soul.

Great response MIK. Your fa... (Below threshold)

Great response MIK. Your failure to add "FIRST" at the top negates your Democratic Party talking points.


Good post DJ.Your ... (Below threshold)

Good post DJ.

Your opening comment says it all. Something tells me the Obama campaign has become a bit complacent over the last few months, akin to an athlete spending too much time reading his/her press clippings and not preparing for the actual game.

Tha Palin announcement was the pièce de résistance of a great week for McCain. Aside from being an excellent pick, the announcement on Friday was the third or fourth time Obama was taken off message.

If I were McCain and Palin, I would spend Monday through Wednesday packing sandbags on the Gulf Coast, then send Palin to Mpls to make her acceptance speech wearing a rain suit, no make up and with wet hair (take that, Michelle!). The contrasts of that with the Obama coronation would be stark.

MIL says Obama spoke about ... (Below threshold)
Edward Sisson Author Profile Page:

MIL says Obama spoke about "the urgency of changing course for the better in America. He detailed in no uncertain terms the failings of the Bush administration and what failings to expect of a McCain presidency. He outlined his plans for America, and outlined how he would pay for it."

That's just the reason the speech did not produce the "bounce." The first and most important thing a Presidential nominee has to do is sincerely acknowledge that the United States is a great and wonderful country, and that he (or she) is honored and humbled by the fact that a major party has chosen him (or her) to lead it for the next four years. Obama's speech was all criticism. He said, in substance: America, you've made bad choices for the past 8 years, electing that idiot Republican Bush, and if it is not obvious to you now what a mess you've made of things, you must be stupid. And now you may just be about to make the same dumb mistake all over again, if you choose McCain. So let me lay it out for you just how much you need me to fix the problems you've made for yourself.

That doesn't play well to anyone other than people who've already decided they want Obama. It doesn't get new voters, it just excites the old voters. It's like a church throwing a big open-house night or tent meeting or fair that attracts thousands of new visitors, and then the pastor delivers a sermon that preaches only to the choir.

MIL also fails actually to disagree with the point of Drummond's post, which is that McCain out-strategized Obama -- not whether it was a good or bad thing that McCain out-strategized Obama. Drummond is right, certainly in the short-term McCain tamped-out any convention bounce for Obama, and has left Obama's supporters less energized to spend the next few weeks trying persuade other people to vote for Obama. The question now is whether the press, which is so overwhelmingly for the Dems, will get the chances it wants to pose interview questions to Palin that the press will then proclaim she was unable to answer. Frankly, given the certainty that the press is going to spin her answers as negatively as possible no matter what answers she actually gives, I doubt that this tactic will be successful, either. The press simply can't be trusted to report accurately on Palin, because the press has already been so partisan and biased that it has thrown its own credibility away.

McCain has done a good job ... (Below threshold)

McCain has done a good job of getting inside Øbama's OODA loop the last few weeks, but I was never sure whether that was by design or by accident. This pick makes me think it was by design, and that McCain might really have what it takes to run a successful campaign, even in this down year for Repubs.

I still think he'll make a truly dreadful president, though.

As a former fighter pilot m... (Below threshold)

As a former fighter pilot myself, yeah, McCain is inside Obama's OODA loop and has been for a couple of weeks now.

Great article. Took the sa... (Below threshold)

Great article. Took the sails out of the Obama camp and energized the GOP who were weary after listening to days of nothing out of the mouths of the DNC, in particular Obama's speach about ambiguous promises. Timing couldn't have been better. Where's my yard sign?

More on how the press has a... (Below threshold)
Edward Sisson Author Profile Page:

More on how the press has already decided to spin every Palin answer negatively: Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, speaking on the McLaughlin Group, said the selection of Palin was greeted by "literally laughter" in "very many newsrooms:"
ELEANOR CLIFT: This is not a serious choice. It makes it look like a made for TV movie. If the media reaction is anything, it's been literally laughter in many places across news-
McLAUGHLIN: Where is that? See that?
CLIFT: In very, very many newsrooms.

So Eleanor Clift is blatant... (Below threshold)

So Eleanor Clift is blatantly admitting that "very, very many newsrooms" are in the bag for Obama.

[cue literal laughter here]

Palin was greeted by ... (Below threshold)

Palin was greeted by "literally laughter" in "very many newsrooms:"

I view that as a positive indicator for McCain/Palin.

WHO IS SARAH PALIN... (Below threshold)
WHO IS SARAH PALIN? She's a WOMAN and PRETTY! Let's keep running looping close-ups of her face over and over as we discuss just who this woman is.

That's hilarious. A dem who is jealous of McCain's smart and pretty, more feasible veep candidate! I love it! :) mik is so smitten, he/she uses caps to express jealousy. This is the same kind of rational and mature thinking along the lines of the dems laughing at the situation with Gustav.

McCain is "conniving" becau... (Below threshold)

McCain is "conniving" because he released the name of his VP pick before the Democrats were done with their convention?

Uh... sure. Right.

And if McCain had waited until later this week, the GOP would have been "afraid."

Milksop said"YAY!!... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Milksop said


Obviously he didnt underestimate your intelligence. Yuo cant underestimate zero now can you. Unless you go into negative numbers and I have never heard of a negative IQ. Of course this is the first post I have seen by you so keep trying you might just get there.

The convention was over whe... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

The convention was over when Palin was announced. What's pissed off the Dems is that he announced before they were finished with their convention bounce.

McCain's media team has bee... (Below threshold)

McCain's media team has been beating the Obama campaign like a rented mule. The Palin pick is just the latest example.

And that is why "Age and Gu... (Below threshold)

And that is why "Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut" (O'Rourke, P. J), or in BO's case, a resume so thin that a sitting governor of Alaska has more executive and managerial experience than he has and most likely more foreign policy experience too.

I think Mik had a candle-li... (Below threshold)

I think Mik had a candle-lit bubble bath planned for Friday night while he listened to replays of Obama's speech and McCain ruined it for him.

There's a bee in some bonnets because Palin mentioned Hillary's statement about cracks in the ceiling. The prevailing wisdom is that she's stealing Hillary's thunder or undermining Hillary's campaign. Being a woman, I see it totally differently and I told someone else that in another post:

Palin was not speaking to anything in regards to Hillary's stance on issues. She used the statement in the SAME CONTEXT that Hillary did. Neither of them used it in the context of political philosophy. Both of them used it strictly in the context of gender not being a barrier to candidacy.

"If we can blast 50 women into space, we will someday launch a woman into the White House.

"Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it."

"It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all."

It was obviously a politica... (Below threshold)

It was obviously a political decision as your own rightwingnews.com has Palin's #2 qualification for being the pick is she is a woman. Had Clinton not been so popular I doubt Palin sees the light of day at the RNC.

In any case it was a good timing and predictable to make such an announcement to stunt a democratic bounce. As much people here are complaining about unfair media coverage, maybe you just don't understand that was the point in picking her anyway? Any media coverage (and really all coverage) has been on her and not Obama. Part of it is because she's such a horribly bad choice, but it still serves the purpose of getting coverage off of Obama which is what McCain was hoping for. Figuring out if she's actually qualified....well that can wait. For Republican's sake, you better hope she is because the election is still 2 months away.

Sadly for Republicans, any advantage the Palin pick may have taken away from the Democrats in media coverage was just wiped out by the Hurricane heading for NOLA. This will interfere with the RNC as well. So basically everyone is back to square one.

Maybe the libbies are upset... (Below threshold)

Maybe the libbies are upset that palin ACTUALLY does prosecute corruption, not encourage, hide, dismiss, or ignore it like Dims do.

Didnt Dims campagn in 06 on their intent to clean up Congress?

What exactly have they done to clean up corruption in Congress, well, besides ignore Wm. Jefferson, DiFi, Murtha, Bidens boys, Pelosi, Reid's sons, Wexler, and, oh yeah, all of the corruption surrounding B Hussein, his wife's job from a pork recipient, his home purchase, and other little publicized stories such as his financial relationship with ACORN.

If Palin can help do for DC what she did for Alaska, nearly impossible with 9% Nancy running interference and protecting the dirty dims, she is a shoo in to be conservative nominee in 2012.

Dear DJ,I think th... (Below threshold)
Roy Lofquist Author Profile Page:

Dear DJ,

I think this goes far beyond one-upsmanship. Palin is going to be America's sweetheart - everybody's kid sister, everybody's daughter. Women will come over, not because of the plumbing, but because she is the living, breathing embodiment of their hopes and dreams. Legally Blond on stilts.


I wonder what happend to th... (Below threshold)

I wonder what happend to the CNN national poll of polls? The Gallup poll showed Obama 8 points a head the day after the speech and the day after Palin announcement. Before the convention I think Gallup had Obama behind 2 points. I don't like picking and choosing polls though, I like the average better (since it proved to be a better measurment in the primaries).

I wonder how accurate this CNN/opinion poll really is in the grand scheme of things. I guess we will find out monday when more come in. But I will say this about Palin which no ones really thinking about. For everyone being so down on Obama for having no substance, people sure are ready to jump on board with Palin.

For all those thinking she's qualified or more qualified than Obama for some reason because of her "executive" experience:

She's been in office for 20 months as Governor of Alaska with a population close to 680 thousand. Some of that time has been dealing with a scandal of hers and family matters. Before that she was a mayor of a town of 7000 for three years.

Obama has been campaigning for 19 months, leading one of the most effective and most appealing Presidential runs in history, along with Hillary splitting 36 million votes between them, 49% to 49% around 18 million each, and tens of thousands of volunteers, for 19 months. Before that he's had 12 years of state/national level, an outstanding education, a community organizer and head of some pretty important positions.

Your going to tell me her experience trumps his? Does her experience trump all of McCain's VP runner ups as well who don't have executive experience (or do)?

Basically for anyone to say these two people have the same experience or Obama has LESS experience, are not being honest with themselves. However, that's not even the point. The point is McCain looks like a huge flip flopper right now not on his value of how important experience really is.

If Palin is qualified, then why isn't Obama with his much longer record and appeal? If she isn't qualified, why did you pick her when you said you would pick the most qualified candidate? Is Palin qualified only because she may appeal to the far right or women vote? If so, how can you say Obama is only trying to win an election when you pick someone just to win an election?

If any of these arguments are correct, how can we trust your judgement McCain, when either way you completely contradicted your main attacks on Obama? Remember Obama never defended his experience, he defended his judgement. McCain was the one arguing experience equals judgement.

There's a lot of ammo for democrats after next week.

Not that I buy too much int... (Below threshold)

Not that I buy too much into polls, but I think the way polling has been done in this election is pretty ridiculous. What CNN does w/ it's polls is to give the candidate with the lower figure a bump based on the margin of error... so if Obama is up by 4%, but the margin of error is 3%, they will say Obama is up by 1% w/in the margin of error. Besides the fact that this is misleading, this is also incorrect mathematically. The 3% margin of error means the % will swing either way for either candidate, but inherently it must swing the reverse for the other candidate. So, if there is a 3% margin for error, and Obama is up... say 53% to 47%... then the outer-limits of the margin of error are actually Obama leading 56% to 44% (12%) or Obama tied 50% to 50%. But instead, CNN will say Obama is up by 3% w/in the margin of error... which is wrong. The only thing I can take from the polling is this... Obama is leading... and has been the whole time. By how much... that's another matter.

These assumptions are total... (Below threshold)
Wary Author Profile Page:

These assumptions are totally off base. First of all, Gallup polling demonstrates that men, NOT women, are more taken by Palin being on the ticket. If McCain's intension was to get women voters, it's failure in that respect.

Secondly, Obama has his game plan, he's followed the same plan all along, it's McCain who just threw a "Hail Mary Pass" with this announcement--something to get his base all juiced up--which it is.

The great difference in the two campaigns, is that McCain is playing to the media, that's all he has, a 'national' campaign in the media, including reliance on the ads--that's all he has. The GOP has no or little 'party machine' left for an effective ground game.

Obama on the other hand, like all Democrats, understand the media is in for the GOP and not the Democrats. Therefore the Democrats have had to build a strong ground game and have been doing so since 2005.

Think of this, while 85,000 attended, 40 million voters watched the Obama speech last week, there were also 50,000 'house parties' nationwide gathered to watch the event and celebrate.

I think McCain was very worried about his time in the arena this week, in deed. OK, so he has his new pick--surprising yes, but it's waht is called a "Hail Mary Pass'--because he had to grab the media attention since he cannot compete with the ground game.

And as Democrats became painfully aware since 1994, the GOP's ground game is often what gave them the edge.

Democrats are much more competitive now after rebuilding their 'ground game' that's what helped them 'win' in 2006, since that time, they've kept on building--McCain is truly worried right now.

Wary/Blake, you've had over... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Wary/Blake, you've had over a day to think about your response, and that was the best you can manage?

You boys are in deeper trouble than even I thought before ... bwaha, I say, hahaha.






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