Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Time to Run Up The Score

Time to Run Up The Score

I don't want to jinx anything with a debate tonight. And I'll grant that my location in the dark heart of the People's Republic of Johnson County skews my perceptions.

But I think we'll look back on this election and see the middle of September as the turning point.

  • The economic crisis put the ball on Obama's end of the field to stay, as McCain double-fumbled; first with the "fundamentals of the economy are sound" (no one really believed he meant "American workers" by that) and then with the "suspended campaign" play that failed.

  • Not to give too much credit to one comedian, but Tina Fey's dead-on take on Sarah Palin has locked in her image indelibly to everyone except the core Republican vote. There was no "You're no Jack Kennedy" moment in her debate, but Fey provided the one liners that Joe Biden didn't need to: "I can see Russia from my house" and "I'd like to phone a friend."

    The other important comedian is David Letterman. McCain's visit on the show was just about the only campaign event that was "suspended," and Letterman had been exacting his revenge every night.

    When you become the punchline to the jokes, the game's over.

  • Perhaps most importantly, people watched Obama in the debate and did NOT see the Jeremiah Wright caricature which the attack ads had painted. He passed the plausible president test for the people who had doubts.

    In the subsequent three weeks, the GOP has panicked and retreated to what it know best: attack mode. But, and these may be cliches, but McCain is using the exact same attacks that failed for Hillary Clinton in the primary, and he conceded his strongest argument, experience, with the Palin pick.

    From here on out this is about running up the score. It's about coattails. It's about the 58th and 59th and 60th Democratic Senators -- and, we hope, the 61st so we can finally consign Joe Lieberman to his own caucus of one. Georgia is in play, and in North Carolina Elizabeth Dole is a goner.

    It's about House races on the bubble, like Judy Baker in Missouri 9 and Becky Greenwald in Iowa 4 and dozens -- yes, dozens -- of others. It retrospect, it almost seems like the Republicans saw this collapse coming, and the Palin pick was designed to hold the GOP base vote at x, rather than x minus y (y being a Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin or Stay At Home protest vote) to hold a few seats.

    It's about making this a realigning year that finally kills off the Nixon-Reagan era Republican Southern Strategy and consigns the GOP to a Flags, Fags and Fetuses base from which recovery is impossible and reinvention is necessary. The Republicans won the battles of the 80s and 90s by pulling Democrats to the right and making us fight on their turf, and a big 2008 win followed by a 2012 landslide over a Palin or a Huckabee can do the same. I'd rather spend the 2010s battling a libertarian Republican Party than a theocratic Republican Party.
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