Why the feeding frenzy?

>> Tuesday, September 2, 2008

There Sarah Palin pick has touched off a frenzy of activity. Much of this activity is not positive. She is being hammered to the point where it seems like her candidacy is in jeopardy.

Ben Smith-

"I can't remember the last introduction to the national scene this rocky, and it gets worse every hour -- and even before the investigative reporters have settled in to Anchorage.

Just got off the flight to St. Paul to find, in my inbox: a second source confirming her past membership in a secession-minded fringe group, her lawyering up in an inquiry the AP slugged "Troopergate," and -- insult to injury -- another woman claiming she was actually Miss Congeniality in the Miss Wasilla '84 contest.

The name on the tongues of gleeful Dems, meanwhile: Eagleton."

The question is why exactly this frenzy started. McCain lies and flips about all the time. He is not at all who he pretends to be yet he gets a pass. Plenty of other prominent GOP and Democratic pols misrepresent themselves and should be called out for it. What is it about Sarah Palin or the Vice Presidency that actually got the media to do their job. I think there are a number of factors.

First i think that this had something to do with it.

On the other hand, when a vice president takes over for a president, the nation is necessarily undergoing a crisis, because the death (or resignation) of a president is perhaps as traumatic an event as can reasonably be imagined (in the "best" case resulting from a slowly-developing illness, and the worst, an attack by terrorists or foreign adversaries).

From Lincoln though Clinton, Americans have frequently been willing to gamble on a relatively inexperienced President, exchanging some assurances of near-term readiness for longer-term upside (what might be described as "vision"). But the optimal skill set for a vice president is somewhat different. "Vision" hardly matters; a vice president taking over for a president will not get to name his own cabinet, and will initially at least be left to execute upon somebody else's agenda. Instead, the readiness component is rendered more important.

In picking someone so unknown McCain immediately exposed himself to this critique. All of Palin's personal faults would have been overlooked if she had a reserve of good will with the national press. She was rolled out as a surprise without laying proper ground work. She came out totally undefined and so people rushed to define her. When it was clear that she failed to meet the most basic criteria for the job that made the press and the rest of the sane world unhappy. What if she actually had to take over? The press is willing to let a lot of stuff go but after the last eight years even they dont want to see someone so blatantly unqualified in a position to possibly be put in charge.

The contrast was made so much worse because of the way the announcement was made. It was an obvious attempt to step on the Obama speech. The problem is that the press really liked the speech and probably wanted to talk about it. They saw how good it was and resented it when McCain tried to steal the show with a gimmick vp. It was too obvious and too blatant to justify ignoring it. It was clearly a political pick and coming on the heals of something so good just felt cheap and dirty.

Another factor in this frenzy is that it has slowly been building for some time. McCain altered his trademark style of open access to the press. He became less and less like the man the press had so admired. He was acting less and less serious about governing and solving problems even as Obama was trying to ratchet up the stakes. McCain was not properly responding to the changing mood of the press. They wanted something mavericky like the old McCain to build up the horse race and McCain was not giving it to them. So they are taking this opportunity to hit back on his VP pick.

So you have a candidate, with no national profile, rolled out with no prep work, on the heels of one of the best political speeches in a generation, in front of a press core who are becoming a bit more skeptical and fond of you, and the result is a political beating.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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