Twice now when the McCain campaign was in a tailspin heading for a crash it has been his novice co-pilot Sarah Palin, rather than John McCain himself, who grabbed the controls and steadied things.
Governor Palin’s electrifying performance at the Republican National Convention rescued what was becoming the Campaign to Nowhere.
But all the good that she had accomplished for McCain dissipated when, at the first presidential debate, McCain steadfastly refrained from throwing any tough wallops regarding economic issues — no matter how often Barack Obama exposed a glass jaw.
Obama’s opening punch of reiterating laying all blame for the financial crisis on “the failed economic policies” of Republicans with a big assist from McCain called for a vigorous powerful rebuttal. Instead, McCain counterpunched first with gibberish about how Teddy Kennedy is such “a dear and beloved friend to all of us;” followed by happy talk about how he was feeling better because “for the first time in a long time Republicans and Democrats, sitting down, trying to work out a solution to this fiscal crisis we are in;” then an agreeing-with-Obama observation that “accountability and oversight” were needed; then fizzling out with “we’ve got a lot of work to do”…and “we’ve got to create jobs” and “eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.”
Thus, on the economic issue — the part of that debate by far of most interest to viewers, the issue that will decide this election — McCain gave Obama just about a total pass while giving the millions of voters who were watching little more than a serving of shopworn dull clichés rather than presenting them with any compelling evidence that he is far and away a better choice than Obama. On the campaign trail that same sort of sleep-inducing message has been the norm.
So “Sarah Barracuda” came to the rescue a second time. With all the appealing charm, warmth, wit, and grace of the “Miss Congeniality” she was and still is, at her debate she adroitly made complete fools of Obama’s mainstream media cheerleaders who had been trashing McCain’s VP pick as little more than some dopey cute gal who hunts moose as she calmly and confidentially demonstrated to a record viewing audience of 70 million the proper way to field dress one of the U.S. Senate’s biggest turkeys.
But praying for more saves by Sarah is not a strategy.