On September 12th, six days ago, I wrote The Obama campaign smells of defeat. Since then, if you’re a Republican (unlike me) or just enjoy watching Democrats squirm (very much like me), things have only gotten more entertaining.
It’s been a gaffe-licious week. Joe Biden admits in public that Hillary might well have been a better nominee than him. The Obama campaign puts out an ad slamming McCain for being old and crusty and out of touch because he doesn’t use email, then learns what 5 minutes of Google research by a staffer would have turned up: he can’t type because of injuries he sustained under torture by the North Vietnamese. Nice going — way to make yourselves look like vicious assholes and remind voters of your opponent’s strongest narrative.
Meanwhile, Obama himself continues to fumblemouth any time he’s off a teleprompter, notably in delivering a “lipstick on a pig” simile that is either a gross sexist slam on Palin or far too incompetently confusable with same for anyone who’s supposed to be a great speaker. This gaffe makes a huge number of women mad and spawns a popular T-shirt. And what the hell could Obama have been thinking, anyway, diminishing himself by stepping up to a slanging match with his opponent’s VP?
Somehere, John McCain is smiling. He has gotten inside Obama’s OODA loop. He knows that defeat is an event that happens in the mind of the enemy, and he has hurled his unconventional VP pick at Obama’s weaknesses with the accuracy of a heat-seeking missile.
That pick, Sarah Palin, continues to be the game-changer. So much so that if McCain wins, I’m afraid I’m going to be insufferable about the fact that I smelled the rot in Obama’s campaign before she was tapped — the day of the Biden nomination, actually.
The attempt to smear, discredit and delegitimize Palin has steadily become more intense and more damaging — to the Democrats. She’s become the Road Runner to the Democrats’ Wile E. Coyote; they keep devising ever more ingenious and elaborate traps for their proxies in the MSM to spring on her, only to wind up having them blow up spectacularly and autodestructively.
Poll after poll has reported double-digit swings among women away from Obama/Biden to McCain/Palin. Also, Palin seems to be achieving the remarkable quadruple play of simultaneously (a) energizing the conservative base, (b) reaching moderate independents, (c) enlisting Hillary-backing Democrats, and even (d) stimulating cautious optimism in libertarians like myself. Meanwhile, over in the land of the left-media-Democratic axis:
Doo-dee-doo-dee-doo… now where did I put that protractor? Ahh, here it is! Let me see… if the hypotenuse of the parabola of a pregnant teenager… is inversely proportional to the approval ratings of the religious Right… then if I set the azimuth of the baby scandal catapult to 72.415 degrees, she’ll be crushed as flat as her barren Alaskan tundra. Muwahahaha!
…Egads! I must say, sometimes I astonish even myself with my own genius!
You just know there’s another humiliating KA-BOOM!!! in the MSM’s near future. Thank, you, Iowahawk. Pass that popcorn…
And the beat goes on…not only does Obama lose his lead in the national polls, the Republicans are beginning to look competitive in the down-ticket congressional races! In the swing states, Florida looks like a McCain lock, Obama lost the Ohio lead in August and hasn’t recovered, and I’ve thought he was going to lose Pennsylvania (where I live) since he was dissed in Duryea. (Current polls make it a statistical dead heat).
But wait! Did I say battleground states? Even New York, that left-liberal bastion of blue-stateness, in play! This, for a Democratic candidate at this point in the 2008 race, is epic fail. It puts a 50-state stomping within the range of possibilities they won’t give you Thorazine for considering. Or even a 57-state one, in Obama’s case :-)
How the fleeping frack did we get here? This was supposed to be the year Democrats kicked the ever-loving shit out of a tired, out-of-touch, deeply unpopular GOP. Instead, the GOP is roaring back, the Obama campaign looks increasingly inept, their candidate is visibly fraying under pressure, and the “who lost 2008?” recriminations among the Democrats are already starting.
Superficially, the answer looks like the Palin pick. This is why I’m going to be insufferable right now about having noticed the smell of Democratic defeat in the air pre-Palin, because I think the real problems have been much longer a-building. This takes nothing from Palin, who is wielding a talent for the game the likes of which we haven’t seen since Bill Clinton was on his best game — but Palin is exploiting Democratic weaknesses that go way further back.
Yesterday I dug into Palin’s record and described her, from my point of view as a Wiccan anarchist who opposes her on most “values” issues, as an American centrist. I suggested that the Democratic left has lost any notion of where the center in American politics is. I’ll unpack that in a slightly different direction today; even in a year when conservative ideology is in the doghouse, it left them terribly vulnerable to being blindsided by a genuine centrist with populist appeal. Enter Sarah Barracuda; just by being who she is, she is perfectly positioned to exploit this vulnerability. Because that’s where the voters are!
Wait. Did I say “conservative ideology in the doghouse”? Even that, as it turns out, may not be true. Sure, it’s the mainstream-media narrative — but the Democrats write the MSM narrative to an extent their proxies don’t even try to hide very effectively any more (remember the famous tingle running up Chris Matthews’s leg?). Against it, there’s that troubling statistic that the Democratic-controlled congress has been approval-polling weaker than Bush and the administration for more than a year (last figure I saw was 32% vs. 21%). Something is wrong here, and I think it’s that the Democrats have been caught up in their own propaganda. Their ideological control of the MSM and show-biz and the universities has trapped them in a bubble world they can’t see out of.
(And yet, they call themselves the “reality-based community”. This makes me laugh so hard my sides hurt; as unintentional humor it’s right up there with the social conservatives’ fond delusion that they can fix our problems by magically restoring the taboos and norms of 1957.)
Here’s a big. topical example of how this works: the success of the troop surge in Iraq. It’s been impossible to misconstrue the evidence for months now, but that hasn’t stopped the left and the Democrats and their increasingly-unashamed media shills from diving into deep denial. Which hurts them, because — on the polling evidence — the voters have actually noticed both the success and the intensity of that denial. (The blogosphere had a lot to do with this, I think.)
There’s no way for the Democrats to cope with this as long as the echo chamber they’ve constructed for themselves keeps reassuring them that the war is lost, and if it’s not looking lost right now it’s unwinnable, and if by some freaky fluke in the dialectic of history we win it voters will…uh, yeah, they’ll understand that we shouldn’t have fought it and surely, surely the ultimate American defeat that will make us look wise and prescient will be secured when the Iraqis oblige us by fucking up badly (this is the stage Obama is at right now).
Really. Leaving aside the argument over rights and wrongs, how desperately out of touch with Jacksonian middle America do you have to be before this line looks like sound practical politics? Well, that’s exactly the distance the left/media/Democrat axis has rammed its head up its own rectum. They can’t blame the Republicans or the hicks in flyover country for this; they entirely did it to themselves.
That’s the trouble with cocooning. There always comes a point at which reality stops cooperating and you have to deal with what is rather than what you wish were so — the surge, and the Sarahcuda. That’s what happening to the Democrats. And they’re not coping well, not at all. They don’t have a lot of time left to recover before voting day.
UPDATE: Now, this is interesting. Poll: GOP brand making comeback. Dems and GOP now have equally favorable ratings among independents, erasing an 18-point Democratic advantage as recently as August.