My guess that the speeches of two days ago, especially Palin's, give us revealing clues about what we should expect from now on. This was confirmed by McCain's own address last night and by what their strategists are saying.
Smiling Sister Sarah is going to be the pit-bull hockey mom with lipstick, sometimes known as the attack dog -- the traditional role of the VP candidate. If Democrats fight back against her in the same pit bull tones, they will be accused of sexism and bullying the nice lady. If the Democrats point to her sarcasm and distortion of facts, they will be accused of making personal attacks, while at the same time impugning Obama of loving hismelf more than he loves the country. If the public criticism gets loud, it will be blamed on the media -- a standard Republican defense when they feel vulnerable and run out of sensible arguments.
There was no mention by Palin of W, not one. FDR and Truman were praised but not George Bush -- current Republican President of the United States. No mention either of Dick Cheney, the Vice-President she wants to succeed.
We will be hearing a lot about change and reform and little or nothing of continuing the great accomplishments of the current administration, e. g., prosperity at home, fiscal restraint, victory in Iraq, peace, and universal love for America abroad. We will not be hearing about her extremist views of abortion and some other issues.
We will hear much about a set of contrasts:
Rural, small-town virtue versus big city decadence
Wasilla versus San Francisco
Authentic Americans versus the elite
Decent ordinary Americans versus Washington
Average hockey mom versus intellectual Professor
They will deflect criticism of her inexperience by pointing to Obama's alleged lack of same in relation to McCain's, devalue what experience Obama has had -- community organizer versus small-town mayor -- and when she is compared to Biden will deride the Washington establishment in favor of a fresh, uncorrupted voice from the outside who can reform the wicked place. No matter that the Republican tactics are brimming full of logical fallacies, meanness, evasion, denial, and distortion of facts. The barrage will come so fast that before the truth squad can deconstruct them, there will be more in the ads and speeches. They will accuse Democrats of despicable tactics while playing the game by the Lee Atwater-Karl Rove slime book.
We will hear repeatedly of the condescending elitism of Obama about bitter small-town and working-class Americans who cling to guns and religion and develop xenophobic prejudices -- words spoken to an affluent crowd in California in private, he thought. (Obama's most stupid mistake, admittedly.)
We will hear much of change and reform, about McCain the maverick, and Palin the fresh voice from the uncorrupted frontier who will shake the foundations of Washington but little or nothing about continuity with the Bush-Cheney reign.
Apparently, they intend to play down issues and make the election about character. The means means that the Republican mean machine will be on a mission of character assasination to present Obama is an upatriotic American with devious aims of vainglory as well as an uppity elitist who demeans small town, working-class peoples and their values.
Will it work? I wish I were more confident that it won't. Obama, Biden, and the Clintons have to do all they can to make sure it doesn't.