Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Why Sarah Palin Will Survive

As much fun as it is -- at least for us Democrats (and maybe certain Republicans) to watch the slow motion car wreck that is Sarah Palin, the truth of the matter is she is probably going to be fine.

John McCain knows that if he withdraw her from the ticket, his chances of winning go down even further than they are today. So he, and his coterie of advisors are going to double-down, triple-down and quadruple-down on her, even if it causes them to take on increasingly bizarre and tortured defenses of Palin's qualifications. ("She is a whiz at foreign policy because Alaska is our closest border to Russia," "Managing a small town is harder than a big city!" "Sexism, sexism, sexism, sexism!")

At the same time there are four factors right now--three from that mean ol' media--that are helping Palin's case, and are creating a perfect storm for Palin's reintroduction to America.

  1. The expectations for Palin's speech could not be lower. Because this rollout has been the Hindenberg of VP introductions, at this point if Sarah Palin comes out and speaks English instead of Inuit, the media (and the audience) will be shocked.
  2. The importance of Palin's speech could not be higher--especially for John McCain. With McCain's raison d'etre for running having been extinguished ("Experience!"), there is a growing narrative that his entire candidacy should now be judged on the merits of his most important decision to date: selecting a running mate. His early marks have not been kind. However, if Palin acquits herself and clears the low expectations, McCain is going to start crowing "I Told You So," and the media will have to take it.
  3. The media is predisposed to liking her speech. This is a given. For all of the hits that she's taken these past few days, the bottom line is that she is coming across as something of the victim here, and it's John McCain who seems like the jerk who put her in harm's way. Having said that, the media loves a great redemption story, so you can already write the platitudes in advance. (My cliche prediction, Chris Matthews or Pat Buchanan: "Knocked it out the park. Grand slam, home run!")
  4. She's probably pretty good at giving a speech. This is her bailiwick. She was a former news anchor for crying out loud.

So let's recap: Diminished expectations, increased importance, fixed judges and in her comfort zone.

I'd take the over.

Nate Silver agrees:
But basically, she shouldn't try and do too much. If she pours the media half a glass, they'll most likely be inclined to call it full.
Maureen Dowd cautions, she's not out of the woods yet:
When you make a gimmicky pick of an unknown, without proper vetting, there’s bound to be a sticky press conference sooner or later. I watched it happen with Ferraro and Quayle, and I watched Mondale and Poppy Bush curdle with embarrassment but plow through.

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