Saturday, October 25, 2008

Palin fights back against her McCain Campaign handlers

This is a good sign. Palin is stepping out and making her own judgments. She is fighting back against poor judgments being foisted upon her. This is a sign of political shrewdness: she understands her own appeal better than her handlers do. This is a sign that the gutsy girl who kicked derriere in Alaska was genuine and actual, and was not merely a public relations creation. Politico:
Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her....
Anger among Republicans who see Palin as a star and as a potential future leader has boiled over because, they say, they see other senior McCain aides preparing to blame her in the event he is defeated.

"These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves," a McCain insider said.... Palin's partisans blame Wallace, in particular, for Palin's avoiding of the media for days and then giving a high-stakes interview to CBS News' Katie Couric....
Palin's "instincts," on display in recent days, have had her opening up to the media, including a round of interviews on talk radio, cable and broadcast outlets, as well as chats with her traveling press and local reporters.

Reporters really began to notice the change last Sunday, when Palin strolled over to a local television crew in Colorado Springs.

"Get Tracey," a staffer called out, according to The New York Times, summoning spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, who reportedly "tried several times to cut it off with a terse 'Thank you!' in between questions, to no avail." The moment may have caused ulcers in some precincts of the McCain campaign, but it was an account Palin's admirers in Washington cheered.

Palin had also sought to give meatier policy speeches, in particular on energy policy and on policy for children with disabilities; she finally gave the latter speech Friday, but had wanted to deliver it much earlier.

She's also begun to make her own ad hoc calls about the campaign's direction and the ticket's policy. McCain, for instance, has remained silent on Democrats' calls for a stimulus package of new spending, a move many conservatives oppose but that could be broadly popular. But in an interview with the conservative radio host Glenn Beck earlier this week, Palin went "off the reservation" to make the campaign policy, one aide said.

"I say, you know, when is enough enough of taxpayer dollars being thrown into this bill out there?" she asked. "This next one of the Democrats being proposed should be very, very concerning to all Americans because to me it sends a message that $700 billion bailout, maybe that was just the tip of the iceberg. No, you know, we were told when we've got to be believing if we have enough elected officials who are going to be standing strong on fiscal conservative principles and free enterprise and we have to believe that there are enough of those elected officials to say, 'No, OK, that's enough.'"
And the final straw for Palin and her allies was the news that the campaign had reported spending $150,000 on her clothes, turning her, again, into the butt of late-night humor.

"She never even set foot in these stores," the senior Republican said, noting Palin hadn't realized the cost when the clothes were brought to her in her Minnesota hotel room.

"It's completely out-of-control operatives," said the close ally outside the campaign. "She has no responsibility for that. It's incredibly frustrating for us and for her."

Between Palin's internal detractors and her allies, there's a middle ground: Some aides say that she's a flawed candidate whose handling exaggerated her weak spots.

"She was completely mishandled in the beginning. No one took the time to look at what her personal strengths and weaknesses are and developed a plan that made sense based on who she is as a candidate," the aide said. "Any concerns she or those close to her have about that are totally valid."

But the aide said that Palin's inexperience led her to her own mistakes:

"How she was handled allowed her weaknesses to hang out in full display."
Reading this, I notice how much Sarah Palin's conversational speaking relies on voice inflection and rhythm, and how that style of speaking does not transfer smoothly to print. When reading her conversational quotes, you almost have to intuit what she is saying in order to understand what she is saying (this sentence makes perfect sense to me!). You have to pre-understand what she believes in order to understand what she is getting at. Conversely, if you can listen to her, if you can hear both her inflection and her nuances of rhythm: her meaning is easier to understand.

What do I think about how Palin was initially handled by the Bushies in McCain's campaign? I think Palin's closest handlers were a bunch of snobs who have never handled a true political genius and absolutely would've mishandled, for instance: Ronald Reagan. Reagan's own people mishandled him, and his greatest decisions ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall") were his own decisions and were made in the face of fierce opposition from his advisors. A prophet is never appreciated in his own hometown. Sarah Palin's handlers did not and still do not understand how or why she connects with voters:

1) She is Elvis. She is one of the talented people who work hard and get things done in regular life. Now she's making it big, and the talented people who work hard and get things done in regular life love her for it. They live vicariously through her.

2) She is a quick study who has nothing to hide - and therefore she never had anything to hide about her experience and understanding. From Day One, she should have handled areas of inexperience like this:

I don't know the answer, but I guarantee I will learn it soon. I am a quick study, I know how to adapt and to get things done, and that's how I rose from the PTA to Governor of Alaska while simultaneously raising a family - which is a pretty amazing accomplishment if you think about it.

Palin's critics denigrated her for being "only" the Governor of Alaska. Palin and the McCain Campaign did not effectively make the case for what that accomplishment says about Palin's talent and ability. Instead, Palin and her handlers tried to hide a lack of knowledge which everyone knew existed, thus robbing Palin of one of her greatest strengths: SARAH PALIN HAS NOTHING TO HIDE. SHE IS AN OPEN BOOK. Palin and her handlers turned her into something she was not: a shifty, evasive politician. Palin's handlers did not understand her positives, and Palin herself was too green and too caught up in the whirlwind to see what was happening and to overrule them. She is seeing things more clearly now.

3) From the first, Palin did understand: small government, low taxes, strong national defense, originalist judiciary, and energy. She calls herself a "voracious" reader. Whether that is hype or not, she was reading National Review up there in Juneau, and she does understand core conservative values at least as well as McCain understands them. When confronted with areas of ignorance, she should've pivoted into core conservative areas in which she had expertise. She does this now, though it's true she does now have fewer areas of ignorance.


Palin's McCain-recommended advisors understood neither her appeal nor her strengths. They let their fear of her inexperience poison her positive strengths of frankness, authenticity, having nothing to hide, and understanding conservative values. Palin was too green to overrule them, yet MCCAIN SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT WOULD BE THE CASE. She is no longer too green to overrule them, and it's to her credit that she is aggressively taking control of her own political career.

Ultimately, McCain is to blame for not getting a wise veteran (who had nothing to lose) to handle Palin. McCain's recommended handlers were too green and too worried about protecting their own futures in politics. They choked, they damaged both McCain and Palin, and, ultimately: it's McCain's fault. He has no one to blame but himself. He squandered some of the positives which Palin could have brought him, and in so doing hurt his own election chances. He was bold enough to pick her, yet not bold enough to fully follow through on the risky yet huge positives she could've brought him. You can't go half way on a risky pick like Palin. When you pick her, you have to go all in. McCain blew it.


Oddly, b/c Barack is such a flawed candidate, McCain still has a chance to win. We'll have a better idea how much of a chance when we see the polls on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. A couple of weeks ago, I said McCain needs to be approx. 3 points down with a week to go. I still guesstimate that is correct.

How would we know if McCain were 3 points down? The polls are all over the place. I suspect A.J. Strata is correct that the race is currently either Obama +4 or Obama +10, depending on whether you believe 1) traditional models of turnout and party ID, or 2) expanded models (which amount to educated guesses by pollsters who are paid very well to make educated guesses).

These pollsters must not be sleeping very well right now. Their tushes are on the line, their predictions are all over the place, and they are making big money to predict an unpredictable race. Their consolation is: no matter how wrong they have been in the past, they nevertheless have gotten themselves rehired. Amazing, really.

1 comment:

Francis Deblauwe said...

Ironic cartoon at the Reasons To Be Cheerful blog: ""