On the morning of August 20, Barack Obama and John McCain were in a virtual dead heat for the White House.

Obama was five days away from the Democratic Nation Convention, where his campaign hoped to put in a press swing that would ride him through the GOP’s Convention. He was also riding up attention for his extremely anticipated Vice Presidential decision, as his anxious base and the country alike stood at a standstill. 

But as the infamous truth holds, none of this essentially played out — Sarah Palin was standing in the way.

Blanketing world news, Palin’s entrance to the global stage both wiped clean any and all publicity from Obama’s historic convention and in doing so started a “press wildfire,” exploding into the media for weeks, then months.

But now, as we look back on late August, the daunting shadow in our minds looms between McCain, the press, and the oval office — the polls. Gone from a dead heat to a widening eight point Obama lead, McCain’s promising late August media swing has seemed to backfire.

And as early ballots begin storming in, the McCain campaign finds themselves in a run against the media, the independents, and finally, against Sarah Palin.

Politics is an extremely fragile game in itself. Taunting some and seeming vague to others, political moves are to be perceived by opinion — the Sarah Palin pick being no different. 

As a thirteen year old not effected by voting week or polls, it is more or less clearer to see the strategic effect rather than the emotional toll, and in that respect I believe that the choice of Palin as running mate has essentially the snowball that has turned into an avalanche.

Palin’s political entrance in the McCain campaign put an extremely positive effect onto the conservative base, but in doing so moved the McCain campaign significantly to the right. 

In addition to strategically abandoning liberal Republican voters and the center, Palin opened the McCain campaign up for examination from almost every political side of the isle, detailing that Palin was the female form of President Bush — far right in many of her individual policies.

But what interests me is that the McCain campaign didn’t solely defend Palin, but set off an array of attack ads to the left, sending off the first signs of agitation from his campaign.

And as Obama simply defended them with response press statements and ads himself, the media simply caught on, causing many have accused the media of — bias. The Obama press endorsements kept racking up, backing the McCain campaign closer and closer to the wall. 

The press had caught the strategic unstableness of the McCain campaign, and simply reported it. McCain, in a deeper and deeper hole, executed the response that ultimately will keep him out of the oval office — more attack.

Strategic failure and a political gamble have brought the McCain campaign to their knees — and this is why, as the Fall leaves are raked off the street and world politics comes to a standstill on November 4th, we will see a President Obama elected.

In the final stretches of the now slightly Obama leaning presidential campaign, the trailing McCain/Palin camp has truly let loose their steam, and people have noticed it. CNN just recently released information from a McCain aide among other things, quoting that “Palin is going rouge.”

And some of the loudest voices on the internet as well as the media have questioned: Is the McCain Campaign Imploding?

And this in fact raises a very good question. 

It is not disputed from either party that regardless of the current attacks, since both parties entered the political spotlight and are now close to ending the election, we have seen two very different strategic McCain campaigns.

So a question like this can in fact be raised. The answer? Not entirely.

This essentially boils down to the circumstance of the situation McCain has been in, as well as the fact that their original strategic goals have not fallen through.

And this in a sense involves Sarah Palin and also doesn’t. As detailed in my other work, the Palin strategy has not been a long term success, at first creating a press frenzy but lately failing to deliver enough positive media attention toward the McCain campaign. 

And in part, because of this McCain has lost ground. 

But regardless of the past, I believe that the McCain campaign is trapped in a position they truly can’t dig themselves out of any other way than what they are doing strategically right now. 

But what is interesting is that the strategy they are using in a fact has put forth the sense that McCain has been negative enough to look like it is imploding, as reports of both McCain and Palin coming are off as desperate.

And this is nothing short of true — but my main point here (in plain words) is that the only thing the McCain campaign can do is desperately attack via the press and public statements – the reason being the political position they are in. 

But in the same sense, the Obama campaign is doing the most strategically sound thing to do — point this out. The highlight of this backfire tactic has been this quote recently hammered in by a seemingly fired up Joe Biden:

Barack Obama has a backbone of steel — he can take 8 more days of attacks. But the American people can’t take 8 more years old George Bush in the form of John McCain.

So to the commenters: is the McCain campaign imploding, and what strategies are both campaigns using?

In the already delicate presidential election, race has truly worn many masks from the start. Bloggers and the media alike have thrown out suggestions of the race card, and the issue has now become the latest talking point among the press. 

But truly what amount of votes will actually swing because of a candidate’s race?

I think the reason that this question is so debated is because there is truly no answer. In an election that I still stress is different from every other, many issues will not truly be answered with previous election trends, but to correctly answer the race question would be essentially impossible. 

Why? After a comfortable dinner at home, a somewhat race affected voter leaning Obama most likely will answer his phone to a pollster and tell him that he will be voting Obama come November 4th. 

But in a sense this means less than what it its importance is perceived. After a half-hour drive to the polls, that same man will stand in front of the ballot and thousands of questions will be screaming at him, one being race.

Am I saying that this man won’t vote Obama because he is African American?

No, I am essentially saying that not a single pundit predicting race’s affect in this election will be looking over the voting booth at that man’s vote, nor will that pundit know what that man was originally going to vote if race was not the problem.

But what we can debate is the volume of people who may be swung because of race, which the answer being completely not enough. In my opinion, the amount of people who will vote McCain because Obama is African-American will be close to the amount of people who vote Obama because he is African-American. 

So again I’ll open this up to the commenters with the obvious question: What importance does race truly hold?

In the extremely complicated game of politics, few things are for certain in the subject of strategy, especially the outcome of an already press-plagued presidential race for history — from every standpoint. And when the fact that the race has had arguably the most strings and skeletons attached then ever before is thrown in to the equation, the expression: “Its politics — anything can happen” truly goes literal. 

But in the same sense, the presidential debates have been what many would call the most uneventful part of the campaign, when many bloggers (including me), strategists and the press alike stressed that the debates would do the opposite: setting off major gaffes and swinging the polls. 

And as contradicting as this may sound, I am staying with my prior claim with one event in mind — the final presidential debate. This is because (in a nutshell) McCain must successfully make debate waves or he will lose. 

 Why? The final debate is essentially McCain’s last public  stand against his opponent before the election, and both  campaigns know that McCain does not want to enter an  election with the poll deficit that he has today. 

 And because of this, McCain will have to look for holes to  punch at more now than ever.

Am I suggesting he will attempt to pull off a: Lloyd Bentsen? No, but Bentsen’s “You are no Jack Kennedy” debate stab makes a good strategic point — if McCain intends to win the debate with some sort of effect carried out in the polls, he must not attack Obama in the way that he has but rather all in — with one soundbite. 

If I can refer to one of my famous analogies, McCain’s theoretical sling shot has endless ammuntion and is relatively cheap, but won’t win him anything in the long run, as opposed to an expensive one shot Bazooka — A.K.A a knockout soundbite. 

But does this exist? In my opinion, no. 

If Obama uses the same common sense debate strategy he has been using so far, he will essentially know the above points. And if he does, he will simply prepare for the debate like the previous two — calmly presenting his policies and safely pointing out contradictions and points by McCain. With this strategy, Obama simply saves himself from politically falling on his face.

But also, in doing this, Obama also presents the best defense to the only offense that McCain can throw at him. What do I mean? In short, while McCain is searching for a throw his soundbite through the crowd, Obama has the ability to see McCain’s strategy before it starts — and possibly intercepting the soundbite when it comes. 

So I’ll open this up to the commenters: “Is McCain going to try this, and what would the outcome be?”

In the final stages of the presidential election, there is certainly no disputing that the national spotlight has shifted to Barack Obama rather than John McCain, whether rightfully so or not. 

While listening to a Fox Radio broadcast, a republican strategist put out a bold analogy in a similarly bold topic, quoting:

The party that can’t lose [Dem.] has nominated a candidate that can’t win, and the party that can’t win [Rep.] has nominated a candidate that can’t lose.

Although the quote isn’t exactly historically accurate (its very debatable), nor do I necessarily agree with what the man said, he certainly raises a very good point. 

 Although I am a (obviously non-racist) liberal Obama  supporter who frankly doesn’t care about his previous  political involvements, I know for a fact that many other  people don’t share my views — whether they support  Obama or McCain. 

 Several polls have shown that a great number of people are  in fact concerned with Ayers and other people’s involvement  with Obama, mostly the people that the McCain campaign  have hit on in their recent campaigning.

 It is of course also debatable if those campaign tactics have  in fact succeeded (maybe another post), but my main point here is to raise an even more subtle question: “Has Obama’s background and not necessarily clear past kept the political race as close as it is?” 

In my opinion the answer is yes. 

The McCain campaign, in my view, is taking extremely long and (I’ll quote Obama on this) “erratic” bounds as far as attacks, but it has worked to some extent with the general audience. As pointed out in a great post, McCain’s attacks may have not convinced any talking head to intellectual blogger. But I disagree with the post it its claim that they has altogether failed. 

But in the same sense, Obama is still a clear shot away from the White House, and this issue most likely would be far from relevant in that were to happen.

So instead I’ll open up another (certainly way off track) concept to the commenters, which is further prompted by my original question: Has Obama’s background and not necessarily clear past kept the political race as close as it is?

What if a non-scandalous John Edwards were in Obama’s political place at the moment? Would the election be more of a landslide? 

—- In my opinion, this would be completely irrelevant and false, mostly because I support Obama because of his policies rather than his past involvements. —

 

In what many would call a fascinating debate intellectually as well as strategically, I will say that I am completely shocked by the lack of political and strategic performance that John McCain put forward. 

In my opinion, this debate for John McCain held a huge importance — McCain was in need of a breakthrough, and he as well as I knew that it would need to come with negative attacks. 

But McCain simply didn’t pick the right fights — he picked all of them. In almost every question and issue, McCain choose to attack his opponent. And this simply did not (and is proven to have not) provoke a positive reaction from the audience. 

And this is essentially what part of the outcome is for McCain’s slip in the polls — he has chosen a proven strategy, in this case negative campaigning, and has abused it — both in this debate and in his campaigning in total. 

 Obama laid out my point perfectly after a repetitive string  of small jabs by McCain, quoting to a questioner in the  audience named Oliver:

 “You don’t want to hear politicians pointing fingers, you  want to know how my or senator McCain’s policies will  affect you.”

 This quote was both the closest point to a knockout punch  that this relatively motionless debate held, but also a show  that McCain was not pointing his finger correctly at Obama.  As a democrat and Obama supporter myself, I will say (and you can quote me on this) the Obama won the debate from a policy standpoint. But as a thirteen-year old American and political blogger, I will also say that McCain lost a debate on the strategic side that he very well could have won if he simply stopped attacking.

And this is essentially because although McCain had very little momentum coming into tonight, the debate’s town hall-style favored him — he purposely holds his campaign events as town-halls because he knows that it is his strength. 

But despite this, McCain, instead of capitalizing on the town-hall format by directly answering the questions asked, seemed anxious to put fourth a knock out punch question after question in the form of a political attack towards Obama. 

And because of this, McCain left Obama the momentum door a jar and Obama exploited it, using his strengths to please the crowd with his policies, ignoring the sometimes off-topic McCain points. His ratings instantly increased and as an effect, the normally non-commenting people I watched the debate with pointed out that Obama clearly had a strategic and political edge. 

And in the end, McCain never got his chance for a knockout punch. Why? Obama never gave him another chance — using his earned momentum to both answer McCain and present his point in the way he wanted to.

And so I think that McCain fared as more anxious in his portion of the debate than Obama, and that is why he clearly lost.

As an American, I have recently been surrounded at all angles by the financial crisis, both presidential and vice-presidential debates, and already interestingly enough, the ongoing saga of Sarah Palin. 

So as I tuned in to CNN, passing through images of Wall Street, abandoned houses and OJ Simpson’s Trial, I knew it was only a matter of seconds before I saw Sarah Palin. And when that did in fact become reality, I was completely dumbfounded — not only did I see her, but rather I heard her. 

What do I mean? CNN’s routine coverage of a McCain campaign stop in Carson, California showed Palin addressing the public, but not like I was used to. I’ll get to the point — she wasn’t delivering a stump speech. 

Yes, a non-stump speech wouldn’t have been such a spectacle at any other campaign event in recent history, but the truth is recent history has never seen Sarah Palin. Although today I will lay off the long saga of Palin herself, I must point out something like this has not only been a rarity in the past few months, but to me shows a turning point in the McCain campaign. 

 Although I believe that Joe Biden won the Vice Presidential  debate, I also will point out that Palin didn’t lose it. She  fought, but was taken captive by Biden’s foreign policy  credentials and successful soundbite gambles. 

 But what I think Palin accomplished in the debate gave her  more long term firepower than any single thing she has  done as running mate for John McCain (and sorry for the  bluntness) — she is now no longer a joke.

 If you asked strategists from both the right an the left on  the morning of the VP debate, there would be no disputing  from them across the board that Sarah Palin has been in the public’s eye a PR ploy. Whether that is what the McCain campaign intended to accomplish is another analysis in itself, but my blunt point here is that the Vice Presidential debate simply changed the way people thought of Palin. 

She didn’t have any coupe-de-grace moments, she didn’t gaffe, and she certainly didn’t win, but Palin kept up. And in doing that she passed a certain point of public status — from more of a joke and PR stunt to a vice presidential candidate. This will admittedly not change opinions on her policies, especially mine, but as pointed out in a rather comic tone by one of my friends, “Palin achieved the expectations of stringing together multiple coherent and complete sentences.” 

Although that comment wasn’t exactly correct, it was essentially in the right direction. Palin’s expectations were in fact incredibly low, and because she exceeded them in such a national stage, my guess is that Palin became a valid political figure to many people. 

So what does that have to do with Palin not delivering a stump speech? In truth, a lot.

In more of a bold statement, because of Palin’s renewed status, she has essentially set herself into the position to carefully open herself up to the MSM and public alike. My point here is that because of her partial success in the debate, Palin was either herself motivated or given the green light by the McCain campaign to open herself up to the press.

And this of course temps the question: what would have happened if Palin had gaffed and knocked herself out of the debate?

In my opinion the McCain campaign would be very hard pressed to do virtually anything in that situation. They would face a press fire if they didn’t bring Palin to an event, but would also face a brutal media wall if they let her speak.  

So I’ll let the commentators have a say at this.

In a race unlike any other, politics have mixed with mainstream media, PR stunts and campaign tactics cannot be deciphered, and candidates are currently in a full-fledged ad war. First ladies have turned into public enemies, and lines have been drawn inside of political parties.

But the single, most plain asset in this political chaos that we call the 2008 presidential race is most certainly the element of surprise.

Partisan or non-partisan, liberal or conservative, we can all agree on one thing – Sarah Palin was a surprise. The little-known one term Alaskan governor has set political media to a standstill, hitting nerves on everyone, liberal, conservative, or independent. She has changed politics as we know it, stirring so many feelings that can’t all be represented by just one writing. 

So how can we take all of this in? The truth is, we can’t. Which ever party you support, which every race and creed you are, you simply can’t take in Palin without emotion.

And this is exactly what John McCain wanted.

He wanted this news frenzy. He wanted the blogging world, liberal and conservative to explode into opinion. He wanted chaos to erupt in the media world, (i.e. the OK! Magazine bias). He wanted people like me and you to think long and hard about this media bonanza — he wanted a diversion.

Understanding the importance of his vice presidential pick, McCain couldn’t simply choose anyone. He needed to go out of the ordinary, not into the realm of his contenders, middle-aged white males who would be perceived just like they have for two-hundred years.

And no matter how unreliable, local or politically ripe Sarah Palin was, he knew she would create the second big bang. He knew that she would occupy every political blog, think tank, magazine, and newspaper. And finally, he knew that she would provide a wall between both parties, blacking out media solely focused on the Democrats.

Palin’s experience is an issue, but McCain knew he could exploit this to the fullest, initiating a media strategy that could literately absorb any attack from the left.

And in a sense, this has succeeded, with help from Sarah Palin herself.

Her choosing for running mate has acted as a literal smoke bomb, creating only a small explosion, but then spreading over the entire mainstream media, sparking a spreading cloud of mist. Palin, acting as bait, has done all she has needed to do, unleashing attack speeches when needed and sparking controversy with her “troopergate” scandal as well as he pregnant daughter. The media then proceeded to take the bait, igniting a fire within itself and not running a story without the world “Palin” in it.

Meanwhile, Palin actually has stayed away from the media, ignoring any invitations for interviews on sit-down shows and political debate television as well.

Why? She doesn’t need too.

Palin’s one weakness is the one trait that you would assume a running mate would use to his/her advantage – politics. McCain knows that if Palin explodes back into the media, accepting interviews and arguing head-on with the liberal press, she will be beaten to her knees, and a coupe-de-grace will be imminent during her mandatory debate with opposing running mate Joe Biden.

And because of this, the future is more of an enemy to the conservatives than Barack Obama, and if the Democrats plan to exploit this, they must understand that for now, they have lost the battle of the present.

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