Reading all the reactions to Sarah Palin's speech, two things stand out for me. First, the McCain campaign seems to have decided that the way to salvage Palin as a VP pick is to turn her into a pure base-energizing attack dog. By having her give a speech so thoroughly devoted to vicious attacks on Obama, the campaign has tacitly admitted its attempt to woo Clinton voters with Palin has failed (the references to Clinton and eighteen million cracks in the glass ceiling that were prominent in her speech last Friday were totally absent last night). That, pretty much alone, means Palin will go down in history as a mistake by McCain -- plenty of other people could have played the right-wing attack-dog much better, and with much less embarrassment for McCain.
Second, I don't think this relentless negativity will ultimately prove very helpful, because, as Noam Scheiber pointed out last night, the GOP still hasn't settled on a criticism of Obama. A month ago it seemed like they'd decided to paint him as a "celebrity" but last night that was just one thread among many. Instead of emphasizing one memorable criticism, Palin accused Obama of being a community organizer (oh noes!), inexperienced, part of a Washington elite, of voting "present," opposing energy independence, willing raise your taxes and on and on and on. No one attack stood out. Sure, there were a lot of good one-liners, but this was a completely missed opportunity to deliver a clear message about Obama to the thirty-million odd voters watching.
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