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What Does the Bump Mean?

Peter Lawler’s post below positing a less than ideological source for the McCain Palin bounce is a fair bit of observation. I think I agree with him though I have a slightly different take on what it all means. I know anecdotal evidence proves nothing but sometimes it is illustrative and, in this case, it may help to explain my thinking.

My mother-in-law has a cousin (they are both in their mid 70s) who is the textbook case of an "independent" voter. Her politics are all over the map when it comes to elections but she has a few issues about which she can get fairly passionate. An example: the only extended political discussion I’ve ever had with her came as a result of her telling my husband and I that good parents should never allow a gun to be present in the home. (I note in passing that the relative who took our side in that argument was another of the cousins who is a committed and very ideological Democrat . . .) Nevertheless, this woman is a very decent and hard-working sort and she managed to raise three successful boys in spite of the associated anguish of three failed marriages. So I had no idea how she would view the McCain-Palin ticket or whether she would have any strong opinion about it at all.

It turns out that she is delighted with Palin and cannot wait to go vote for McCain now even though she was pretty indifferent about him before this pick. For her, Sarah made all the difference. My mother-in-law, for her part, feels exactly the same way. Although there was never any question of who my father-in-law would support (he’s a veteran, after all), she was pretty impressed with Obama and only hesitated about him because she did not like Michelle. I should also mention that had Hillary Clinton won the nomination, all bets might be off. Both women flirted with the idea of supporting her although neither of them is anything like a committed Democrat. But it is also fair to say that their "support" for Clinton was always pretty soft and never as animated as it is now for Palin.

Why? Clearly, it’s not ideology. And, if we’re being honest, my own support for her isn’t all about that either. I knew about and liked her politics long before I had any enthusiasm for her as a candidate. It was only during her speech (which . . . thank you, attack dogs in the media, so many people watched) that I began to I feel, as these women now feel, cheerful and confident about our country and our prospects again. We remembered that, like Sarah Palin, we are a strong and independent people and that we need not fret over the challenges that confront us on either the domestic or the international scene. Her speech seemed to say that those challenges are real . . . but we are Americans, gosh-darn-it. What can’t we do when we mean business?

I will also say that I had much the same experience in all the conversations I had with people over the weekend. Everyone was talking about and wanted to talk about Sarah Palin--at the school picnic, at the baseball game, at church and in the stores. And these were not people who know me as anything other than a mom--I’m pretty sure I’ve never discussed politics with any of these people. I can’t remember what it was like in the early days for Reagan, but I’ve never seen anything like this level of enthusiasm among regular people for a candidate.

It’s true that Barack Obama excited enthusiasm in the early days of his campaign. But I think the difference between the enthusiasm for Sarah Palin and the enthusiasm for Barack Obama is going to boil down to this in the end: the enthusiasm for him was ideological. While Sarah ties up the loose ends of the committed conservative base, she has the added benefit of securing the non-ideological voters who see in her a person they believe will work hard, put her country first and not betray their trust.

Barring some great reversal of fortunes, this is now Sarah Palin’s race to lose and I don’t think she’s in the habit of losing.

Discussions - 13 Comments

I've always had the impression that the support for Obama is not really ideological. It's more of a cult of personality. A lot of his younger supporters have a hard time saying why exactly they support him. I guess the real answer, "it's his skin color", is not one they can comfortably speak.

"Everyone was talking about" Sarah.

My andecdote has to do with the tiny barber shop I go to, an all-male refuge in this day and age, where generally the talk is about town matters, gossip, house repairs, sports and the weather. I was bowled over when I walked in two days ago and everyone was raving about Sarah. I mean laughing it up, hooting about Oprah not having her on, looking forward to what she might do to the blubbering windbag Biden. These were men who did not strike me as Republican die-hards. (One had supported McCain in 2000. One was a social studies teacher, and that generally does not translate into rightwing evangelical, I can assure you.) It was the humor and energy that amazed me, aside from the fact they were talking politics at all. Yes, optimism, but optimism about the fight itself, in her and all of us, not the government and the talkers. I think people are longing for it. As the old song said, "somethin's happenin' here, what it is ain't exactly clear."

My father, a committed democrat, who at 80 has suddenly started listening to right-wing talk radio and is now afraid of the terrorists walking the streets, is voting for McCain because, and I quote, "he has good taste in women."

John, I think his anti-war stance and the thing you mention--skin color--did boil down to a kind of ideology for some people. It was a kind of attempted vindication of the 60s as if voting for Barack Obama made up for Vietnam and made you an enlightened believer in the Civil Rights Movement. If he loses, perhaps we'll finally be a post-60s, post-Vietnam and post-Racial country. I sure hope so.

In the classes I teach, everyone wants to talk about Palin. The DNC convention is so yesterday to them.

While they may not like the McCain ticket, that they are so preoccupied with Palin tells me that McCain, so far, has chosen prudently.

One other thing: I personally know of someone--a woman--who attended the DNC. She came back saying: I think I am a Republican. The Palin choice, and her awful treatment, has only seemed to reinforce that sentiment.

Both women disliked Michelle Obama, -------- seems to be a lot of that going 'round these days. Yet the Obama campaign, in their desperation, is unleashing that rancorous, embittered woman on Sarah Palin, who seems happiness and contentment incarnate.

I think that's THE key reason why some ostensibly educated, career women are rejecting Sarah Palin, ------------- she's just too damn happy, and she's probably had more enjoyable sex than all of them put together!

There's a report in some newspaper today that relates that truly enjoyable sex is mental, not physical. As a Christian I'd add "soulful," but nonetheless it rebuts decades of liberal propoganda about how women can have enjoyable sex lives.

Guys like Limbaugh have simply said female opposition to Governor Palin is based upon "envy," but I think it's not unwise to speculate on the reasons behind that "envy."

And I'd suggest that the energy about Obama wasn't so much ideological as it was superficial. There are too many followers of his who project their policy desires onto him. There are reports of Iraq veterans who believe that he would have waged the war more effectively. When asked for specifics, they run through a list of items that Obama clearly rejected and opposed. And you see that elsewhere. "Change" and "hope" were CALCULATED to be nebulous, formless, directionless. That's exactly what Axelrod did for Deval Patrick, and that's what he's trying to replicate at the national level.

She is refreshing. Obama is now stale, yesterday's news, and his skin colour no longer fascinates the electorate, which has already gone beyond it. His speeches drone on and on, leaving no genuine imprint upon the mind or the soul. His delivery has now become listless. And how could that have been otherwise, what with him repeating the same old, same old for over a year.

She hearkens back to America's best.

He constantly sermonizes about America's worst, and can't do anything else.

She engages gleefully.

He whines constantly.

So who do you think Americans are going to tune out, and tune in.

Many of you guys have been too damned pessimistic, too damn defeatist. Paging PETER, ------- PETER LAWLER! In a straight up comparison between Rudy or McCain, and Obama, ---------- the odds always favoured us. Had we not been carrying the anchor of George Walker Bush around, ----------- Obama would be getting blown out by now. It wouldn't even be close.

There's a report in some newspaper today that relates that truly enjoyable sex is mental, not physical.

Why am I not surprised that someone who frequents this blog would read an article reducing sex to some sort of universally understandable way of "true enjoyment" (but it must be done the authors' way, because they have finally figured it out for you). What nonsense.
As if there is a way to have sex in a correctly enjoyable manner (although, as you alluded to - I'm sure your way includes Jeezawz).

This blog is growing sour. Political and ideological differences have recently been sort of cast off here in favor of which candidate(s) looks/sounds the best on TV or why the polls are jumping (as if there is any way to really answer that question beyond uncertain speculation). It's very frustrating. I enjoy coming here (keep your enemies closer than you keep your friends, right?), but I don't understand the sudden shift . . . Maybe it's an election season thing . . . That's another reason I can hope it ends soon . . .

Matt, you badly misunderstood the point.

But whatever. The point was marginal, not central, speculative, and not something I'm inclined to go the mattresses over.

Now I know that for some the last several days have been real rough, what with the collapse of Obama in the polls, the movement of American women towards the McCain/Palin ticket and the fact that for all the media's assistance, Obama can't gain lasting traction. I know that's been hard for some to digest, to deal with, to handle.

It must be hard watching the Dem trainwreck in slow motion.

And Matt, there were two conventions back to back, and modern conventions increasingly are fixated on optics and message management. Thus it's hardly untoward that a political blog takes cognizance of such things. It's the way that American politics have been trending. Didn't you notice the Democrats put their nominee up before a cast of thousands, with Grecian pillars as bookends. What, was nobody to compare McCain's simplicity with such over-the-top packaging? It would be political malpractice not to comment about it all.

It can't be Burke, Hayek and Milton Friedman 24/7.

And it's not this blog that's gone "sour," it's somebody's poll numbers..........

You're right Dan . . . going to the mattresses over such a marginal (and, clearly, too nuanced point for some of our readers) would be far too conventional and, of course, uninteresting. We can do it much better than that . . . but conservatives do have to be careful about seeming to brag. It certainly helps when the other side willfully misunderstands us and remains blissful in their ignorance about us because then they can continue to underestimate us and irritate our natural constituents with insults about their intelligence, their sexuality, their religion and their capacity to govern themselves.

There is an entire generation of young people who are now of voting age and have grown up watching TV and movies and getting their ideas of what the world ought to be like from them. And one recurring theme in much of their "education" is that of the super-cool black guy. Will Smith, if you like. The Holy Grail for a lot of white-bread twentysomethings is to have hip colored friends like those they see on the tube.

I don't think that Obamamania can be fully understood apart from that dynamic.

@1. John, maybe you are partly right. There has been a cult arround Obama because this "historic" election. Wow, a nigger became president, what a historic event. But honestly he was the better choice for the USA, as he is well educated and not brainwashed so hard like Bush. I wish you a lot of fun with your brownie:)

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