Reading some of the other blogs, I feel I'm perhaps overly negative about McCain's chances. My political instincts though keeping tugging me in the other direction.
I think Wednesday of this week will be the high point of the Republican campaign for President. A new Republican star has been introduced to the country in Gov. Sarah Palin.
McCain did as good a job as possible of playing to the convention crowd and distancing himself from what has become a very unpopular Republican brand. That was what a lot of commentators focused on after the speech. I think the real story was missed. The speech seemed more of a request that the American people elect him Commander in Chief. If that was the sole job of the President, I think McCain would be preferred hands down. But foreign policy rarely drives presidential election results. "It's the economy, stupid," was an overused slogan, but it's nonetheless an accurate one.
McCain doesn't seem to have a coherent economic policy or the interest in developing one. While Obama is lacking in the same area, he seems much more comfortable talking about the economic concerns of the American people and the pain they are feeling. While he's scant on providing solutions, or even a plan, the fact that Obama seems better at empathizing with the troubles of ordinary Americans puts him in the driver's seat.
As much as I would like to think the selection of the very popular Sarah Palin as VP would make an enormous difference, I think you'd be hard pressed to find any instance in American politics where the selection of the running mate made more than a marginal difference. At best, the Veep choice helps balance the ticket geographically and/or ideologically, or helps the Presidential candidate win a key state. Palin will certainly help shore up the Republican base and reach out to some disaffected Democrats, but I sincerely doubt it will be enough.
There are still two months to go before the election, a lifetime in the world of politics. Obama still has time to lose the race. Make no mistake though, it's his race to lose, not John McCain's to win. Obama's greatest enemy is an overinflated ego and a reputation for disdain for ordinary Americans, those small town folks that "cling to their guns and religion." In any other year, that would likely doom his chances. This year, with an anti-Republican tidal wave set to hit in early November, it's doubtful that McCain will be able to surf on top of that wave to victory.
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