A reader writes:
Did you hear this? It was on NPR the morning after the election. I’ve listened to it a few times, and out of all the commentary I’ve heard and read so far on the election, this is the one piece that keeps coming back to me.
If Weaver is trying to make it sound like the McCain campaign made a mistake when they let him get away, mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned.
I heard another commentator today say something to the extent that McCain made two huge mistakes:
1) Suspending his campaign to tackle the economic crisis.
2) Selecting Palin.
On the second point, this commentator didn’t seem to be any sort of Palin-hater. Rather, he said that one of the strong selling points of the McCain campaign is (was) experience, and that McCain’s attacks on Obama had been most effective when they focused on Barack’s relative lack of experience. The commentator asserts, however, that McCain’s ability to aggressively and compellingly attack Obama on this point was substantially weakened when he selected a running mate that also lacked experience.
The commentator also said McCain took a gamble on suspending his campaign and lost, but that suspending the campaign wasn’t a bad idea outright. Rather, McCain just didn’t capitalize on it in the appropriate way, and he came across looking desperate rather than confident and Presidential.
The BBC apparently has some serious Palin-haters, which surprised me. Have you been over to their web site since the election? They’ve been filling the front page with clips showing Palin calling her detractors “jerks,” and also the clip from Fox news where O’Reilly’s correspondent claims Palin doesn’t know which three countries are in NAFTA, or that Africa is a continent and not a country. Putting my personal thoughts about Palin aside, I must say I found these editorial selections to be rather surprising coming from the BBC, which usually seems fairly staid an conservative.
Anyway, all this is to say that I think the real problem with McCain and his campaign probably was this his strategists (and McCain himself) made many, many disastrous mistakes in working with and handling the media. I bet the campaign will literally become a case study in political science and perhaps PR classes on how not to work with the media.
In contrast, Obama’s handlers just hit the freakin’ media-spin ball out of the park, man. Among other things, they really get web2.0 and its power. There was a short piece from a NYTimes Bits blog about how their YouTube commercials were viewed a bazillion times, and, based on how much money the equivalent would have cost using MSM, they estimate the use of YouTube saved the campaign tens of millions of dollars.
My Reply Part I:
There is some serious infighting on the GOP side, which tends to happen when groups lose an alpha male, or the new alpha male is weak. That was definitely the case with the McCain campaign. There is a theory that Mitt Romney’s little army of Mormons was absorbed into the McCain camp and have been systematically sabotaging the campaign ever since. I mean, it’s beyond ridiculous. You’d never hear about anonymous staffers hating on a Bush-Cheney campaign, much less Barack Obama, or Clinton. The other theory is that it is McCain’s people and he is really being a jerk because everyone came to see Sarah and she raised 100 million for the RNC and he got zero for his campaign.
I actually tend to believe the former theory. Another staffer (Steve Biegun) have come up and put on the record that Palin knows full and well about Africa and follows issues in the Sudan and Egypt and Somalia. That staffer are named, the ankle biters are not. In general, I tend to believe those that go on the record over those that remain anonymous. Christians pay attention to the middle east, and I find it hard to imagine that your Todd Palin works for BP all your life and you don’t know where Nigeria, Libya, and other oil rich African countries are. I know people that are the reddest necks in the world, that barely made it through high school, that worked in Nigeria. I’m willing to bet Todd and Sarah know some people like that too. I think the NAFTA thing is equally ridiculous and hard to swallow, particularly since she is governor of a border state and negotiated a pipeline deal with a Canadian company.
Sarah was calling the ankle biters jerks, not critics.
Look, she has enough gaffes as it is by which you can judge her. I’m just saying don’t take this post-election stuff too seriously, b/c it is probably someone trying to make Mitt look smarter by knocking her down.
I supported Mitt in the primary but now think he is pretty much a bitter jerk and I won’t support him in the future, regardless as to whether these guys were his aides. He pretty much sandbagged it for McCain. I agree with you regarding web 2.0, but Howard Dean had all that fundraising too and look where it got him. Dean pretty much took a shiv to the Clintons with the Florida and Michigan thing, which like it or not would have swung this whole thing back to the dynasty. And like it or not, the honest thing to do would have been to let Florida count and let Obama be put on the Michigan ballot in the first place. So, all the web 2.0 stuff is fine and dandy but you need a good candidate and specifically Obama needed some love from party to make it happen.
Reply Part II:
The postmortems are all fine and dandy but seriously, given the gift wrapping Bush, Paulson, and Bernanke gave to the democrats with this horrible, horrible bailout, I can’t come up with a hypothetical situation in which McCain wins.
Sure, McCain could have voted ‘present’ on the bailout like Barack Obama did, but I can’t imagine that would win him any converts. I would have preferred that he vote against the bailout and cite it as another difference between him and George W Bush, just like the surge, election reform, torture, greenhouse gases reform, but that would have required McCain wanting to win the election rather than save face for his fellow Senators and keep the dudes in the back (i.e. the bankers) happy. Even if he does come out against the bailout, the press would pin the stocks dropping squarely on McCain. Instead, we are coerced into spending more money in a year on the bailout than the entire gulf war, and the stocks drop like a rock anyway. So, nope, I can’t talk myself into a McCain win.
Republicans will never out-Democrat Democrats, so when Republicans act like Democrats you might as well vote for the Democrats. Make sense?
The reason why the bailout didn’t pass the House the first time is that a majority of constituents like me went nuts and kept the phones ringing. From what I hear, reps that voted no were strong-armed by GOP party leadership into changing their position. My rep, John Culberson voted no both times because he has a pair.
On Palin, I can’t see any VP pick that brought more to the table. That is not a plaudit for Palin. Bobby Jindal wanted nothing to do with it and he just got elected (Jan 08) anyway. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, nah. Mike Huckabee? Maybe you win Iowa, maybe Virginia, I doubt it. I think most anyone excited about Huckabee (lower class whites, evangelical Christians) were voting for Palin, too. The media wanted McCain to pick Lieberman, but that’s just because the media wanted Barack Obama to have a 50 state landslide. Jerks.
As for Weaver, when McCain ditched him his candidacy was considered toast and everyone was writing up how great Guiliani was. Many claim that ditching Weaver was the one thing that turned around McCain’s candidacy in 2007. So, he seems like a nice guy, but take it with a grain of salt.