Is This The McCain Campaign’s Next Headline Grabbing “Game Changer” Surprise?

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Times Online reports that the campaign of Republican Presidential Senator John McCain may have a secret political weapon that would be a real October or November surprise — one that would be hard for the Barack Obama campaign to match:

In an election campaign notable for its surprises, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice- presidential candidate, may be about to spring a new one — the wedding of her pregnant teenage daughter to her ice-hockey-playing fiancé before the November 4 election.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

There is already some urgency to the wedding as Bristol, who is six months pregnant, may not want to walk down the aisle too close to her date of delivery. She turns 18 on October 18, a respectable age for a bride — and the same age as Barack Obama’s pregnant mother when she married his Kenyan father. The Democrat has already declared Bristol’s private life off-limits as far as his campaign is concerned.

Could something like that really impact the campaign? The answer is: probably yes.

This is 21st century politics, operating in a 21st century newsmedia culture that’s dotted with newspapers battling shrinking circulations, coupled with a constant blog and cable media news cycle that demands to be fed flashy stuff constantly. Just look at the coverage O.J.’s trial in Vegas is getting. You can easily imagine the media rushing to Alaska for the wedding, providing live coverage on cable, huge headlines in tabloids, and images of Palin as a beaming grandmother on TV and in newspapers, trumping any negative political images, and raising her sagging positives in the polls.

It would be ironic — but not surprising, given the evolving political culture — if a landmark, close election was decided by the marriage of a Vice Presidential candidate’s daughter and celebrity-style coverage from a campaign that has made celebrity an issue. (Let’s not think about the political trend that the political benefits of the marriage could start…). It would re-inject the impact of personality over national issues in a big way and could end up a political positive.

On the other hand, it could also backfire and end in Tina Fey being contracted for yet another appearance and provide David Letterman with a week’s punch lines about a campaign timing a marriage to try and get votes.

NOTE: The first reaction on reading this story is “Well, this is just one paper and one news report.” But so many unexpected things have happened in Campaign 2008, it’s clear that anything could happen.

HERE’S SOME OTHER WEBLOG OPINION:
Andrew Sullivan:

Is this what McCain is now counting on? Shutting down the race in order not to lose it?

Josh Marshall:

I take everything I read about American politics in the British papers with a grain of salt. But giving what we’ve seen so far, I can’t say I’d be surprised if the moral jalopy that is the McCain-Palin Straight Talk Express sunk us even further into farce with something like this.

Pat Cunningham:

A so-called McCain insider is quoted as saying: “It would be fantastic. You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

Uhhhhhh, yeah. Sure it would.

Big Tent Democrat:

The strange thing is it very well may be McCain’s best bet.

Pam’s House Blend:

I wonder if it will boost them in the polls more than Jenna’s wedding did Bush’s approval rating.

These people are sick..

Ellis Weiner in The Huffington Post:

It’s not that “you can’t make this stuff up.” You can. But then your head would fall off. Now, however, you don’t have to run that risk. The Republican Party, with the straight face of the salesman lending you his pen to sign the purchase order for the world’s most horrible vacuum cleaner, has done it for you.

Mencken, thou shouldst be living at this hour. And you too, Twain. And, what the hell, all you guys and gals from ages past (Norman Mailer, Hunter Thompson, P.T. Barnum, Sinclair Lewis, Robert Altman, Sophie Tucker, Nathaniel West, Billy Wilder, John Dos Passos, etc.) who knew that America was (and still is, God damn it) that place of places where nothing is too brazen, nothing is too ludicrous or inane or mendacious or nakedly meretricious, that we can’t at least try it.

No More Mr. Nice Blog:

I don’t know if it’s really going to happen, but if it does, I think I know when we’ll hear more about it.

Thursday.

Yup — if it happens, I think the announcement will come right before the VP debate.

Perfect, right? It’ll be just like McCain’s alleged shutdown of his campaign — Team McCain will time it to steal the headlines from what’s expected to be an embarrassing Palin TV appearance.