I Hate To Say This, But I Agree With Karl RoveSeptember 11, 2008
As an Obama supporter, I know it might seem a little unexpected for me to toss some praise in turd blossom’s direction, but what can I say? Via memeorandum, I spotted this Rove op-ed in the WSJ: Obama Can’t Win
Money quote/bottom line:
It’s a matchup he’ll lose. If Mr. Obama wants to win, he needs to remember he’s running against John McCain for president, not Mrs. Palin for vice president.
To make his point, Rove proceeded to outline examples of failed presidential bids that featured this sort of disconnect. He didn’t outline any bids that were successful with this kind of thing playing out (assuming there have been some), but I think he’s reading the current dynamic pretty accurately.
Obama risks taking a step backwards with every comment that he makes about her, and this risk, for the most part, outweighs any reward. As we’ve seen from the ridiculous “lipstick on a pig” faux controversy (that wasn’t even directed at Palin, but it’s one heck of a hint), there are going to be those who will be eager to mislead, spin and misconstrue any comment (no matter how poignant) and turn it into sexism or some sort of gaffe (as I predicted), and scream it loudly. If that narrative gains traction, it’d be a hole that’d be tough to get out of, and a huge distraction from the message of the campaign. Rove convincingly paints a trip down this path as a no-win scenario, but to expand on his point, Obama really shouldn’t have to go there anyway. Presidential candidate vs. running mate doesn’t sound like the intuitive way it should work, and engaging in it in a manner that is in any way aggressive creates the impression that one is intimidated. That isn’t exactly a way to dictate the tempo.
At first, I was going to suggest that Obama limit specific criticisms of Palin to those that can be confidently and clearly framed into the debate on what the selection itself says about McCain, but now I’m not so sure. At this point, I’m beginning to think that the best way to counter whatever swell of support McCain has gained with Palin is probably to ignore her. More specifically, Obama should craft the remainder of the campaign as if the rule of thumb was to pretend that she hasn’t been selected yet (as strange as it sounds on the surface). Focus on McCain, and marginalize her my not giving her the dignity of a response to whatever she might throw. Obama should ignore the bait, take the high road for the home stretch and count on Palin doing herself in as the interviews and debates move forward.