The Rockford Files

The Audacity of Dopes

No one expected the vote to be so close.  After Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech in St. Paul, the Republicans were certain they had found a rock star to compete with Barack Obama.  They could ride the crest of Palinmania all the way to the Oval Office.  All they had to do was keep the hockey mom out of the public eye—or, rather, the public ear.  Her impromptu remarks on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—“They’ve gotten too big and cost the taxpayers too much”—the day before the federal government nationalized the private mortgage insurers had been embarrassing.  John McCain could do the talking; Sarah Palin would do the looking—from a distance, hand cupped over her ear.

The Democrats took the Palin nomination seriously.  They knew the value of a symbolic gesture; a first-term senator from Illinois would not have received their party’s nomination otherwise.  While Republicans were crowing over post-convention polls that showed a 20-point shift in the support of white women from Obama-Biden to McCain-Palin, the Democrats were working hard to turn back the tide.

Their first attempt—running ads in such battleground states as Ohio and Wisconsin, claiming that John Mc­Cain would make abortion illegal—fell flat.  They had not fully grasped the change in demographics.  White women—the group most likely to vote—may...

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