September 08, 2008

Don't "Misunderestimate" Palin

The McCain camp is doing all it can to lower expectations of Sarah Palin. And expectations should be negligible for her ability to do the VP job. However, like George W. Bush she's clearly a skilled politician—and low expectations of a skilled politician are dangerous.

The technique her team will likely employ is to blur the lines between political skills and preparedness.  As we remember too well, Bush was able to "win" debates against Gore by scoring political points even when he clearly was less informed on issues. (It didn't hurt that Bush was backed up by the Republican rapid response machine, which created a narrative about Gore's sighs). Similarly, though Palin would clearly lose a debate with Joe Biden on substance, if expectations of her are low enough she could be perceived to win on the basis of well-timed gotchas alone.

Palin's refusal to give any interviews to the national press is a precursor.  Now that she's finally agreed to meet with ABC, it is considered news. What should be news is that unlike Obama, Biden, and McCain, who are happy to have the free press coverage, she's afraid to do it.  Instead, when she gives her interview—in a format dictated by her campaign—she's likely to get a passing grade as long as she speaks fluent English.

By Will Friedman in Election '08 | Permalink  | 


The comments to this entry are closed.