Should they be holding-off an all-out attack on Palin?
Since Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s choice as VP, she has come under more intense scrutiny than any of the other three major candidates on the ticket. Her daughter’s pregnancy, her views on abortion and sex education and creationism, her apparent membership of the Alaskan Independence Party, and the continuation of Troopergate. Now her judgement over the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ and the influence of her pastor are being thrown into the mix.
But is this barrage of scandal and pseudo-scandal a mistake? Even beyond making the Democrats seem shrill or panicked, this ‘kitchen sink’ approach is treatment unlike any received by a candidate so far this election cycle. Even if some of the claims are true, does it make sense to allow them to drown each other out?
There is a long history in American elections of ‘the October surprise’ – a last minute reason given to doubt a candidate. Whilst I can see the sense in questioning how fully the Alaskan Governor was vetted (as this challenges McCain’s judgement), there is a danger that Palin survives the kerfuffle comparatively unscathed, and that she will be more difficult to attack closer to the election.
The Democratic strategy seems to be to dredge up enough material to either stop Palin from being on the ticket (which no longer seems likely) or to simply overshadow the Republican Convention. I doubt either will be entirely successful, and I think this could be backfire.
When Obama was under the most pressure, after the revelations about Pastor Jeremiah Wright, he was forced to give his speech on race. Not the finest example of his rhetoric, it was none-the-less extremely effective at neutralising the complaint. Many compared it to JFK’s defence of his Catholicism in 1960, for successfully allaying fears and confronting a serious threat to his candidacy.
Palin has been under extreme pressure this last five days, and yet has the opportunity to address the nation from the Convention stage tonight. If she delivers the address that many believe her to be capable of, I wonder if the Democrats may live to rue throwing everything at her so early.