One of the saddest things about Republicans is that they're their own worst enemies. Because for as much fearmongering as they do, they really are scared of their own shadows and see bogeymen around every corner, and the bogeymen is them.
Because they really do imagine that we're all like them, think as they do, and know all their darkest secrets; and are too close-minded to realize that the rest of us aren't playing the games that consistently swirl around in their heads. And so they learn to become hypersensitive attack dogs because they're always scared of every move they make and the more clever they get at protecting themselves, the more dangerous their opponents seem to become. Because they always fear that they are on the verge of being exposed and that all their weaknesses are on display to the world, so they become increasingly deceptive and paranoid with each passing battle.
And this is exactly what we saw from Nixon, who really did believe himself to be a decent guy who was only slightly more successful at screwing other people than they were at screwing him. Because he believed that everyone was doing what he was doing but just doing a better job of hiding it. And again, it was his shadow self he was always fighting. He knew what he was capable of and imagined that his enemies were planning the same thing. Everything he did was self-defense against his own imagination.
Winning the News Cycle
And so it is with Karl Rove who said of Obama's VP decision:
"I think he's going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice. He's going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he's going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He's not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president."
But of course, it was Rove and the McCain side who would make this blunder. In fact, the idea that Rove could imagine that Obama would make this kind of mistake is strong evidence of what an idiot the guy is. Because he obviously doesn't understand what Obama's been doing this whole time and why Obama's political model is far superior to Rove's simple-minded one.
Because the Rove model is where you put all policy implications aside and view everything through a political lens. Everything is negotiable, including every longterm goal, and it's all about winning the next news cycle. But that's not what Obama has done at all. Because short-term cycle-victories are nice and everything, but without a longterm goal, you just never know where you end up. And as we saw with Clinton and now McCain, you can end up stepping on your own message or moving into territory that hurts you overall.
And that's exactly what we see with the Palin decision. Sure she knocked Obama's speech off as the top story (though honestly, that might be for the best, as the more the talking heads talked about it, the more the Republicans would have convinced them it was a bad speech); but this news cycle will be over by Monday and they'll still be stuck with Palin. And that's not how Obama has done things at all. He has a longterm goal and has made sure that every little part of his short-term strategies fit into that goal. We saw that in the primary, where Hillary would often win news cycles, but end up a little further behind after the news played-out.
And more importantly, as Carpetbagger points out, when your campaign is based on what you plan to do and then you win, you have a mandate to do those things. But when your campaign is just based on bashing the shit out of your opponent, the only mandate you have is to keep bashing your opponent; which explains why Bush has been so unpopular. They won the election, but they had no ability to do anything with it because their victory had nothing to do with people approving of them. And there's really no point in winning if you don't get the spoils of victory.
And even now, libs fret every time McCain wins a news cycle, but Obama still comes out ahead in the end. Because he's playing this for the Big Picture, which is how it's done. You really don't need to win every little skirmish, but once you start playing the short-term game, you're trapped into it and every little battle IS the big battle. Obama knows better. Rove still doesn't.
And so it was unthinkable that Obama would need to go for the cheap political gimmick. He's his own slick marketing campaign, and so what he needed was a running mate to add more substance to the ticket And that's exactly what he got. And it was McCain whose political machine is so rusty that he needed a cheap gimmick to spruce things up. And it was Rove and his ilk who would put the political implications of the VP choice ahead of the practical ones.
Even the Dick Cheney pick was a political decision made to spruce up lightweight Bush with a man of "gravitas," which was probably the biggest mistake the Bushies ever made. The weight Cheney added has been crushing them for years. And this time, they went with the sportscaster beauty queen who satisfies the rightwing base in the worst ways. (I should mention that I have nothing personal against Palin, and it's unfortunate that she wasn't intelligent enough to realize she should have turned down the offer. She will certainly regret it.)
And when Rove was talking about what Obama's campaign would do, he was only telegraphing his own thoughts. And they're sadly insular. Even if Obama were a short-term news cycle sort of thinker, it was obvious he needed a weighty choice for VP. Again, it would have been the Bush-Cheney thing, of pairing a less experienced president with a weightier vice-president. But Obama went with someone who helps him in every way and who looks credible as a presidential substitute. So while Biden was a good political choice, it was policy implications that came first. And that's been Obama's MO the whole time.
And hearing Rove mock the idea of picking an inexperienced VP in order to satisify political needs is just too funny. I mean, not only was this his way of thinking, but he was the guy who thought picking an inexperienced boob to be president was devilishly clever. Again, these people are their own worst enemies. Were they smarter, they'd realize that the criticisms they make of their perceived enemies actually represent self-doubt, which they could use to better themselves. But instead, they flail mercilessly at an enemy that only exists in their heads, and it's only due to the superficial nature of our political coverage that anyone imagines that it works.