The TV news is all Palin, all the time. And daughter of Palin. Politically this isn’t necessarily bad for Republicans, to the extent it focuses scrutiny on Governor Palin, who I think stands up well to it. However, it is bad (or good, depending on your partisan inclination) in that it removes scrutiny from Obama, who does not. The risk of a media pile-on on Palin was one of the risks McCain took in selecting Palin. Only time will tell if it was a justified risk.
The distributed Obama campaign — including the Obama organization, leftist bloggers and MSM — quickly figured out the dynamics of the situation and are responding effectively. The campaign or bloggers introduce daily talking-points that are repeated and amplified by a media cascade and can generate enough network (online and TV) discussion to crowd out most other topics. That’s what happened today and yesterday. Today’s main talking point was, McCain didn’t adequately vet Palin. This is clearly not true, given that McCain’s people were checking out Palin months ago. Yet given the story about the daughter, the talking point is just plausible enough to give media people cover in keeping it alive for a day as a major story. Conservative and Republican bloggers and MSM people unwittingly help their opponents by focusing even more attention on Palin in order to defend her and correct the record. While all of this is going on, Obama is almost invisible, and he appears to have picked up a few points in the polls. (Notice that the bounce didn’t begin until waves of Palin stories rescued him from the media spotlight.) The concurrent weather story, which isn’t really a story but is being hyped for all it’s worth by the pro-Obama media, further distracts scrutiny from Obama.
Conservative MSM people haven’t quite caught on to the full extent of what is happening. Their supposedly non-partisan colleagues are gleefully helping Obama by repeating endlessly “questions” about Palin that displace both McCain’s message and serious scrutiny of Obama. Who wants to talk about Obama’s relationship with Ayers, or about offshore drilling or tax cuts, when there’s juicy gossip (or merely reckless speculation) to be spread about Palin’s family. On Brit Hume’s show tonight, the conservative commentators were almost sputtering with rage at the Democrats’ dishonest attacks on Palin. Yet these same conservative commentators spent most of their time attempting to rebut the attacks, which means they didn’t talk much about anything else. Larry Kudlow devoted much of his show to defending Palin. Conservative media people watch impotently as their leftist colleagues do Obama’s work. The big-media conservatives aren’t temperamentally or tactically equipped to respond effectively. Perhaps the pro-McCain bloggers will do better.
Obviously Obama would like to keep Palin at the center of media focus. Obviously McCain would like to keep his own policies, and Obama’s failings, at the center of focus. McCain’s electoral prospects depend on how quickly he and Palin can maneuver to shift the focus back to Obama. McCain may yet come out OK if public disgust with scummy media partisanship generates a backlash, or if voters lose interest in the MSM’s dishonest Palin-as-soap-opera meme. Whatever happens, it’s clear that Governor Palin and her family are in for a nasty ride. The leftist political-media complex will go all-out to destroy her as long as attacking her deflects attention from the radical leftist at the head of the Democratic ticket.