It's getting to be hard to stay motivated about the race. According to fivethirtyeight and RealClearPolitics, Obama's ahead by a lot in all the national polls, and time is running out for McCain to make up the gap. But there is one thing that is keeping me rooting for a blowout: destroying Sarah Palin's career.
Sarah Palin is, literally and figuratively, an attractive candidate for the GOP. She gives a voice to the George W. Bush wing of the party, those who emphasize anti-intellectualism, tax cuts, increased spending, "social issues" (i.e., dividing America), etc and all the other things "Joe the Plumber" likes in a candidate. She inspires enthusiasm among the GOP base unseen since Reagan, though, admittedly, without the appeal to moderates.
Should she manage to escape this election with her reputation more or less intact, her popularity with the base means she instantly becomes the frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination. And she has the potential to be a very strong candidate next time around, with 4 years to learn about the Supreme Court, the job of the Vice President, and how to handle a live interview. It's clear that she has made rapid progress at being a credible candidate since being introduced as the nominee; while she's still a terrible candidate, she's improved from the trainwreck she was earlier on. I think she might actually be intelligent, but she just doesn't know that much about politics and government.
Saving her electoral future will require a close loss and/or Republicans' not blaming her for their loss this time around. But, luckily for Obama in '12 or Hillary/Bill Richardson/Someone We Haven't Met Yet in '16, there is a very credible case to be made for Palin's candidacy being the most important factor in McCain's hypothetical (though increasingly likely) loss, even more important than the economy.
1. No credible person could argue that she's qualified for the office.
2. Therefore, no credible person could argue that McCain "put the country first" over politics and party by picking Palin.
3. Her selection, then, was perceived as a political stunt.
4. Therefore, two weeks later when he announced he was suspending his campaign to go deal with the economy, it was also perceived as a political stunt.
5. The $150,000 Plain shopping spree, along with the Colin Powell endorsement which Powell described as being based in no small part on the Palin nomination, killed any momentum McCain might've gotten out of the Joe the Plumber thing.
Palin, still in her larval stage as a serious candidate when plucked out of relative obscurity in Alaska, has the potential to develop one day into a strong candidate. We need to crush her now before she has a chance to crawl back to her arctic cocoon for four more years of maturing.