Conventional Wisdom Shifting In Obama Biden McCain Palin Presidential Race As Republicans Smile


Yes, the phone finally rang at 3 a.m. next to Senator Hillary Clinton’s bed and she answered it and responded — but not yet in the way the caller perhaps had in mind. The call went out because now some things have clearly changed in the wake of the Republican convention.

The caller: Democratic Senator Barack Obama who wants Clinton out on the stump to shore-up Democratic voters and also counter the political and political-rock-star appeal of Republican John McCain’s controversial running mate Gov. Sarah Palin, a crowd-drawing new celebrity for the Republicans who have gone after Obama for being a crowd-drawing celebrity.

Clinton has started responding but, as the L.A. Time’s blogger Andrew Malcolm notes, in an eyebrow-raising way: She is refraining from going after Palin and pulling her political punches when it comes to her Senate friend McCain.

A very interesting thing didn’t happen Saturday.

Appearing at a labor rally and stumping for congressional candidates in New York, Sen. Hillary Clinton uttered her most popular line from the recent Democratic National Convention in Denver: [Senators John McCain Republican nominee for president and Hillary Clinton Democratic loser for her party’s top nomination share a close friendship] “No Way. No how. No McCain.” This time she added, “No Palin.”

But despite some soft lobs by media with her, that’s as far as the female candidate who got closer to a major party’s top nomination than any other in American history would go in criticizing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the first female top ticket member in Republican Party history.

Despite continued grumbling among her supporters about a less-than-diligent effort by the Barack Obama crowd to help the New York senator retire her immense campaign debts, Clinton has been living up to her promise to fund-raise and campaign for the Democratic ticket all over.

She has repeated the “No way. No how” line about John McCain many times and warned against four more….

…years of a Bush-like administration.

But she’s been very careful to avoid saying harsh things against her good friend from Arizona, who was among the first to welcome and show the former first lady around the old-boys club of the Senate on her arrival in 2001.

Robert Lusetich, writing in The Australian:

Hillary Clinton may be the most obvious choice to throw into the ring against the new darling of American politics, Sarah Palin, but the failed Democratic presidential candidate is refusing the job.

“We’re not going to be anybody’s attack dog against Sarah Palin,” a Clinton insider said yesterday.

It’s an extraordinary act of hubris from a woman whose success in exposing Barack Obama’s weakness in working-class Democratic states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana may have been the reason that John McCain chose a gun-toting, God-loving mother of five as his running mate.

Although she is 60 and unlikely to have another shot at the White House, Clinton is apparently concerned that she would appear ungenerous to the Republicans’ first female vice-presidential candidate if she were to go after her.

It is a rationale that will fuel the belief – lingering among Democrats since Al Gore’s failed 2000 presidential run – that the Clintons always put themselves before their party.

There has been a big shift since the Republican convention — a shift in the always all-knowing conventional wisdom comprised of pundits, all-wise left and right partisan pundits on radio talk shows and on those proliferating left and right cable partisan talk shows masquerading as news shows that are the equivalent of political infomercials.


It’s now perceived as a race more-even-than-ever with increasing suggestions that, yes, McCain could well win it due to his base being energized and due to a fact most analysts won’t say bluntly:

The Republicans have proven themselves much better at winning national campaigns and the Democrats have often shown themselves inept at national campaigns, frequently grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.

Just look at some of the political news on this first weekend after the conventions. It isn’t the same panorama as before the conventions — and most of it should make Republicans smile:

Zogby reports the McCain-Palin ticket now enjoys a small lead and convention bounce.

Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin left St. Paul, Minnesota, with a smallish bounce overall and some energy in key demographic groups, as the race for the presidency enters a key stage and voters begin to tune in to the contest, the latest Zogby Interactive poll finds.

The McCain/Palin ticket wins 49.7% support, compared to 45.9% backing for the Obama/Biden ticket, this latest online survey shows. Another 4.4% either favored someone else or were unsure.

–The AP reports that the McCain-Palin ticket is now seemingly becoming the Palin-McCain ticket as she helps him now attract monster crowds.

The significance: even with the backdrop of an increasingly-ailing economy, the continuing war and other issues, 2008 now seems poised to become another campaign centering on the culture war with a key theme being how soft Democrats are on social issues and national security. Democrats have not WON these kinds of campaigns — because they spend most of the time reacting to GOP ads and charges and appearing increasingly-wimpish to many voters. Can another culture war/partisanfest trump the country’s political and economic context? The GOP tickets crowds suggest it could, if the trend continues and Democrats react as in previous years.

–Some prominent commentators now write about the Democrats regaining the wimp factor, losing control of the election. And one even spins a fantasy about 2012 after Obama has lost.

The Tribune’s The Swamp reports that polling now shows Democrats reverting to a weak-kneed wimpish party on national security and other issues, after having turned that number around in 2006. Conservative writer Nick Cohen thinks Obama and the “liberal” American press lost control of the political narrative. And New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes a whole column about a 2012 Presidential face-off between Palin and Clinton — after Obama loses and is back in the Senate.

The bottom line is that the conventional wisdom — what journalists, old media and new media pundits have as the certainties behind their confidently-predicted assertions and analyses — is now out the window due not to just Palin’s speech (which was, as all major acceptance political speeches, written by a speech writer no matter what her own input was) but by the sudden excitement displayed by GOP’s conservative political base.

2008 is now shaping up into yet another base-mobilization election which means it will be mega-partisan with a difference: both Obama and McCain will be battling big-time to win over independents and moderates.

Republicans have their impressive info machine which includes talk radio hosts who can usually bring along their audiences (some of these shows now resemble three hours of political affirmations).

Democrats have a smattering of liberal talk shows but the truth is that progressive talk has failed as a growth-industry radio product. If you travel, you need to hire a private investigator to find it. Democrats have a strong Internet activist network but it hasn’t proven to be as effective in impacting major elections as conservative talk has been at instilling Republican partisan talking points and rallying the GOP party base.

In reality, Palin’s emergence and the re-energized Republican social conservative activist now means this election will boil down to which side has the best tactical and strategical smarts to run the campaign like a championship chess game — coolly considering moves that will get to the long-term goal rather than emotionally and impulsively moving the pieces as the other side moves a piece.

According to Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, the Democrats know they have to respond to her.

Normally vice presidential candidates fade into the background. Nobody is expecting that with Palin; indeed, her new found celebrity has made even Obama look dull. The usual rule is that voters don’t trust attacks from people they don’t know, but Palin is turning the adage on its head. Democrats are determined to attack her credibility, even if it gives her more visibility. “We’ve got to go after her, and fast,” a top Democratic strategist, who asked for anonymity when discussing strategy, told me.

And, once again Fineman indicates, a piece of convention wisdom is suddenly in “NEVER MIND!” territory:

The real task of hunting Palin belongs to Biden, who will meet her in St. Louis for a 90-minute debate. The first-blush assumption that she would be overmatched faded the moment she finished speaking in St. Paul, and Biden’s friends and advisers express concern about the delicacy of his task. Biden is as deeply informed on the issues as any member of the Senate, but he has a tendency to want to prove it at length. “He has to be careful not to come off as heavy-handed,” a friend of Biden’s, who’s not authorized to speak publicly about the campaign, told me. “He has to push back, but in a careful way.” The Democrats have to score against the hockey mom—without tripping on the ice.

Other previous calculations have apparently started to change, too, such as the Democratic ticket’s prospects in the West. The Salt Like City Tribune:

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said the Democrats made a pitch for Westerners, but Republicans have two Westerners on the ticket – a senator from Arizona and governor from Alaska.

“The McCain-Palin ticket is as Western [of] a ticket in American political history,” Huntsman said. “As a Westerner, I couldn’t be happier.”

Erwin said it is a big advantage to have candidates who understand the West and can speak with authority about issues like energy, water and property rights.

“It is clearly an uphill battle for the Obama campaign in the West,” said Kemmis, who was the Democratic House speaker in Montana.

But Michael Stratton, a Western Democratic political consultant, says Obama’s message of changing Washington, and sustainable energy development while protecting the environment will resonate with voters. Undoubtedly, though, there will be a fight.

“I think that in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, you’re going to see a lot of John McCain and Sarah Palin and lot of Barack Obama and Joe Biden,” said Stratton. “They’re three of the closest states in the country right now, and I think they’re going to be that way right until the end.”

The Democrats will be appealing to Americans’ pocketbooks and sense of how the country is on the wrong path and how a Big Broom change that sweeps the crew that ran the executive branch for 8 years is needed. The Republicans will focus on how the Democrats can’t be trusted and suggest their change could go too far.

The mission of both parties: get a big chunk of the independents since you can’t just win with your own base.

In 2000 McCain ran in the Republican primaries as a reformer and George Bush suddenly appeared behind a sign that said “Reformer With Results.” It worked. In 2008, Obama is running on change and McCain’s big push now is to say the GOP will bring change by putting different members of the GOP in charge of the federal government.

Recent presidential elections involving the two George Bushes and Bill Clinton often came down to which side had the toughest, smartest, set-the-debate-agenda campaign team that used — and manipulated — the news media more effectively. With the exception of Bill Clinton with his generals James Carville and Paul Begala, the Republicans have won. Will 2008 be another year?

FOOTNOTE: Here’s Obama responding to the Republican convention and its new message:
YouTube Preview Image

Cartoon by Eric Allie,

UPDATE: California Democratic party legend Willie Brown says the Democrats are now in big trouble. Here’s part of what he writes in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Democrats are in trouble. Sarah Palin has totally changed the dynamics of this campaign.


Palin’s speech to the GOP National Convention on Wednesday has set it up so that the Republicans are now on offense and Democrats are on defense. And we don’t do well on defense.

Suddenly, Palin and John McCain are the mavericks and Barack Obama and Joe Biden are the status quo, in a year when you don’t want to be seen as defending the status quo.

From taxes to oil drilling, Democrats are now going to have to start explaining their positions.

Whenever you start having to explain things, you’re on defense.


And she delivered it like she was just BS-ing on the street with the meter maid.

She didn’t have to prove she was “of the people.” She really is the people.

….As for Palin herself, she is going to be very, very effective on the campaign trail, especially if McCain’s people can figure out how to gently keep her from getting into confrontations with the press.

If she can answer questions like she handled herself at the convention, Palin will turn out to be the most interesting person in all of politics, and the press will treat her like they treated Obama when he was first discovered.

And remember, the Palin bandwagon needs to roll for only two months.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    I think it’s still too soon to tell a thing. Palin is such an unknown it could break either way in the next week or two.

  • elrod

    All of this confirms that Obama needs to DESTROY her by calling her a poodle and not a pit bull because she’s too afraid to meet the press.

    You don’t respond by playing defense. You go on the attack. Run ads about her extremist social positions.

    If she has the social conservative base that won’t be enough. The middle is not terrified of change as they were in 2004. The way to win is to remind the middle of what a FRAUD and and extremists Sarah Palin is, and to remind voters that the McCain-Palin ticket is a repeat of Bush-Cheney.

    Ignore her at your peril. She must be eviscerated – and not by focusing on garbage like her family. Hit her on her lies and her woeful lack of understanding of national and international affairs.

  • Rambie

    They should go after the McCain-Palin ticket. by going after their policies not their families, just as the GOP will try to go after Obama-Biden.

    There is enough ammo in the flip-flops of McCain-Palin and “staying the course” with the Bush Administration that the case can be made without the attacking the personal lives.

  • AntonK

    Yes, ” Hit her on her lies and her woeful lack of understanding of national and international affairs.” That’s a great idea, as Obama’s strengths in those areas virtually guarantees there’ll be no blowback.

  • Rich Vail

    Unfortunately, Elrod, Palin w/be interviewed by ABC…there goes your thesis, care to come up w/another?

    Here’s mine, she’s become popular, because she could literally be any one of millions of American women. How many women do you know who got pissed off at their local school, and joined the PTA to change the way it works? Then went to to become mayor, THEN fought the corrupt Alaskan Republican machine of Ted Stevens/Mikowski (spelling?)

    My wife isn’t a Republican (I am) and she’s now planning to vote for McCain/Palin because SHE could be The Other…Palin’s story is one of an American Feminist (also, who says a Fem MUST BE LIBERAL?) who is fighting the system, and winning…that’s why she’s do popular, and will win election in her own right in 2012.

  • Steve62

    Obama doesn’t know that there have been Democratic majorities in the House and Senate since the last national election?

  • Marvel Goose

    If you look at both the Zogby and Gallop today, the undecided vote is shrinking quickly. The question becomes, what percentage of those swing voters are also likely voters?

    We could be looking at a replay of 2004 when getting out the committed voters was the key — and the Christian Right won that battle. Obama so far this year has had the best grass roots operation (yeah, being a community organizer does have SOME advantages). Can the Christian Right make up for losing 8 months of this year in the next 60 days?

    IF Palin can keep from making a major gaffe or being tagged by the media, she could be a factor. Obama doesn’t have to be worried about making gaffes as he gets a pass… almost daily.

    Being an informed citizen these days requires a lot more work digging up original sources as the politicized media (right and left) can’t be trusted to report even basic facts without spin.

    One thing we can be sure of… the conventional wisdom often is overturned. There will be more changes before we get there.

    Merrill Guice

  • Marvel Goose

    And one last note and then I’ll fade away.

    Certainly Gov. Palin’s speech was written with help from a ghost. So was almost every speech given in the past few weeks, including John McCain’s. As a public speaker myself, let me give you an old chestnut of a rule. “The audience is often paying much closer attention to non-verbal clues for your honesty than it is to your content.” The Clintonian collorary to that is: “if you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.”

    It was in this more important facet of her speech, authenticity, that Governor Palin scored heavily.

  • media_bias

    elrod: Goodness. Since when did being pro-life become an “extremist social position”? And you want her gutted just like a moose? My, my. Just who is the hateful, unapologetic extremist here. As for the press, no campaign manager worth his salt would subject his client to the raging piranhas right now. Let them scream and whine. The more they do that the more laughable role they play as “objective” journalists. I wouldn’t even give NBC the courtesy of returning a phone call.

    As far as most of the other so-called media outlets, they are going to say or print their left wing bias anyway, so why bother with taking time off the campaign right now anyway.? In time, my friend , in time. Let them rage on. It does my heart good.

  • media_bias

    Sorry. Too many “anyway”s in there.

  • elrod

    Pro-life isn’t what’s extremist. Supporting creationism, attending a church run by a guy in Jews for Jesus, believing abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest, supporting (and in her husband’s case, belonging to) a party that believes Alaska should secede from the union, insisting that we take polar bears off the endangered species list, supporting aerial hunting… these are extreme positions.

  • elrod

    Interesting point. And true. What angered me was her delight in delivering condescending attacks on Obama and community organizers, but going through the motions on policy. It shows where her heart is.

  • elrod

    Americans don’t just vote for everyman/woman. They vote for the everyman/woman who is ready to be President. I can think of millions of people here in Tennessee who are “average.” Many of them took on their local school board, or ran for local office. But can they be Vice President without giving any opinions on the issues of the day?

  • Ricorun

    Elrod: Supporting creationism, attending a church run by a guy in Jews for Jesus, believing abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest, supporting (and in her husband’s case, belonging to) a party that believes Alaska should secede from the union, insisting that we take polar bears off the endangered species list, supporting aerial hunting… these are extreme positions.

    I have it on good authority that such beliefs are not extreme in the slightest. Rather, they are what the “Good People” believe. You know, the grownups. The adults. The non-children, the ones wearing the big boy pants. The supposed non-elitists.

  • SetuMadhavan

    Sarah Palin strongly believes that Men must be paid MORE than women! Sarah Palin also wants to force women/girls that are victims of rape/incest to carry such fetuses resulting from the said rape/incest to full term, then deliver the baby – irrespective of the will of the victim or even her age. And to think that women are cheering Sarah Palin from the rooftops as the poster girl of womens rights who will spectacularly smash through that presidential/Vice presidential glass ceiling.

    Some folks wrongly think that being a woman she will moderate or help turn McCain around from his opposition to equal pay to women. Like this statement one Dave from Baltimore, posted on another site:”I hope Palin breaks with McCain on equal pay for equal work – it would pave the way to a better future for her four children and grandson.”

    Are you kidding me?!!! Gov. Palin is even more hardcore in her opposition to equal pay for WOMEN, than is McCain. Sarah Palin believes that women must be paid LESS than men – no ifs and buts about it. Period.

    McCain, when pushed about his vote AGAINST giving women equal pay as men, has tried to flip-flop saying that ‘if women are to aspire to equal pay, they must first aspire to achieve college eduction”.

    In other words, in McCain’s world, only college educated women shall be extended equality with men in terms of pay/wages. Sarah Palin’s views about (rather against) equal pay for women are very straightforward, and cast in stone: Women must get paid LESS than men. College educated or not, when it comes to pay parity, women are less than men. Coming from a Woman herself, its ironic, but true!

    Kind of like an Afro-American person advocating slavery and segregation of the black population!! Wierd isn’t it?

    Strangely, Sarah Palin is being trumpeted as the symbol of a woman smashing through the glass ceiling!

    (We are not even going into her strident opposition to abortion even if the pregnancy is a result of rape/incest, and the victim wants to abort the fetus. Sarah Palin believes that such rape/incest survivors must be forced to carry the fetus resulting from rape/incest to term, then deliver the baby. NO exceptions, no termination. If such a woman chooses to abort the baby, she commits a crime, and must be tried as a criminal and punished for opting to abort the fetus. Even if the pregnant female is a MINOR child, she would still have to deliver the baby.

    Just so you know, several courts in the country have allowed visitation/parental rights to rapists and the parents or rapists to meet and bond with children born due to the said rape.

    I shudder to even imagine what happens when victims of rape/incest are forced to bear the children resulting from the rape (one Sarah Palin’s wishes becomes the law), and then having to drop off the child at the rapists (child’s father) door for court sanctioned visits to dad. What would go through the mother’s mind? Would such rapists not molest these children all over again. What if this rapist rapes this child/daughter all over again…repeating this unbelievably grotesque cycle!!!!!!

    Is this American women we are talking about or some burqa clad subjugated women from some Taliban country?!


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  • Woodpiggie

    I’ve seen a number of blogs and postings confering touting Obama as a constitutional scholar. I wonder how many other “constitutional scholars” were on both sides of the DC 2nd ammendment case within a 10 day period while maintaining a serious composure? As far as I know this creep is the only one.

    Ever notice his speach pattern? He’ll utter about six words and then deposite a seventh, terminating in an apparent godly self adoring downbeat. In other words, he sounds just like the pompous ass that he is! Happy voting.

  • Woodpiggie

    Obama is the last thing we need in the presidency or anywhere in government for that matter. He’s a proven lying sleezebag and his wife is a flake. Don’t 20 years of afiliation with a hate mongering preacher and long term friendship with a domestic terrorist couple say enough about his philosophical orientation and his character? Would he even be in public life were it not for the disfunctional urban Negro culture that is his primary power base?
    I see in his past affiliations, statements and voting record (what there is of it) much reason to fear that an Obama adminstration’s agenda for America would entail a shift of governing philosophy toward the radical left, enabled by the agenda driven judiciary that he will most certainly push through a Democrat congress. Accepting comprimise of our constitutional rights, beginning but not ending with 1st and 2nd ammendments,(fairness doctrine and “gun safety” legislation,respectively) will become the new patriotism. His brand of “HOPE” when subjected to scrutiny is a socialistic formula for a malignant intrusion of government into the way most white middle class Americans are accustomed to negociating their lives. Dr. King’s dream could well morph into a bloody nightmare as his duped supporters, particularly working whites, currently intoxicated by his flamboyant immatation of substance awaken to real life in Obamaworld.

    McCain is no prize, but Obamamamma will take us where we don’t want to go.

  • Gods_Believer

    It is said that McCain is to old, and that Palin will be the real power behind the thrown. I say if that is true it is God’s will. Sara will lead us in the right path. God wants us to fight for what is right.

    All those weak kneed liberals who are worried about the environment or retirement aught to figure out the Rapture is coming, and Palin knows that. What mattes is what we do now. God will take care of all the creatures and children. Christ said bring unto me the children, so feel not sad for those who must/will perish in the rapture, for their immortal souls are more important, and that is what truly counts. Sara Palin will be there to lead us against the Godless Muslims and if Russia or China get in the way, they will know the fire of GOD, she has said so.

    A vote for Palin is a vote for God, McCain is irrelevant, he won’t even live out the first year of his presidency more than likely. He knew what to do when he was told, that is why Palin is on the ticket. McCain knows where his bread is buttered, so don’t worry about him, he will do as he is told. Palin is the real strength here. Evangelicals can rejoice that we are but a single heart beat away from restoring America to the Christian Land it was meant to be, and then the idolaters will quake in their boots as the army of GOD is finally fully mobilized.

  • Remind_myself


    Recently an insurance company nearly wind up….

    A bank is nearly bankrupt……

    How it affect you? Did you buy insurance? Did you buy mini note or bonds?

    Who fault?

    They bailout trouble finance company, but they will not bail out your credit card bills……You got no choice, and no point pointing finger but you can prevent similar things from happen again……

    The top management of the Public listed company ( belong to “public” ) salary should be tied a portion of it to the shares price ( IPO or ave 5 years )…. so when the shares price drop, it don’t just penalise the investors, but those who don’t take care of the company…..If this rule is pass on, without any need of further regulation, all industries ( as long as it is public listed ) will be self regulated……because the top management will be concern about their own pay check……
    Some might feel that it sound stupid….. as there is long and Short position…but in reality there is still many different caliber CEO… there is still long and short…..

    Are you a partisan?

    Sign a petition to your favourite president candidate, congress member, House of representative again and ask for their views to comment on this, and what regulations they are going to raise for implementation…..If you agree on my point, please share with many people as possible…. Media, please help to highlight also…