Bristol Palin: Political Genius?

I just got off the phone with one of my friends, a hardened cynic and one of the brightest marketing minds of his generation.  His voice was virtually quavering with excitement about the Bristol Palin “scandal.”  I use quotes because, in my friend’s assessment, it is not really a scandal at all, but an act of sheer political genius that makes Karl Rove’s strategies seem like the work of a rank amateur.  

While McCain was clearly gambling when he chose Palin, I doubt he’d have vetted her knowing her teenage daughter was pregnant.  My friend disagrees. Call it the Springerification of presidential politics; if you can’t win on substance, give them a prurient story with an uplifting moral ending.  Give them a sympathetic heroine – an outsider every(wo)man, sticking to her values come hell or high water or vicious attacks on Daily Kos.  Give them a beleaguered daughter whose family rallies around her in a show of breathtaking cohesion.  Give them bathos.     

Thus, my friend’s thinking goes, is the Republican boilerplate of family values and the sanctity of life reified.  Arch-conservatives disaffected by McCain will now turn out in the millions to cast their vote not for a candidate, but for a story.  

McCain learned this trick of mastering the electorate’s emotions from Obama himself.  Not that there’s anything prurient about a Harvard-educated lawyer turned community activist.  But Obama’s ability to inspire, both with his words and his personal story, have already brought legions of new voters to the polls while creating fanatics out of the formerly apathetic.  

So crank up the emotionalism and turn down the class.  Forget the local boy who made good against all odds, let’s talk about the local girl gone bad.  The morality-tale narrative will unfold as it always does: we can turn an unfortunate situation into something positive by sticking together, making the right choice, and, don’t ya know, keeping the faith.  

That’s my friend’s thinking, anyway.  His prediction: McCain in a landslide.  

In my view, it could all backfire, smashing McCain’s campaign permanently.  The Republicans are so off-message now that they’ll have a hard time finding their way back. Besides, stories of poor decisions that turn out well in the end only look good in hindsight.  The message from the voters to Palin may well be: we like you, sister, but it sounds like you have some personal stuff to work out first.

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6 Responses to Bristol Palin: Political Genius?

  1. I am so wise says:

    You know, if Mrs. Palin had followed the traditional values of the GOP and had been a stay-at-home mom, well this would not have happened.

    Of course, the GOP eschews traditional values when necessary or convenient, so I am not surprised.

  2. sharon resnick says:

    If McBush knew about Bristol he’s nuts, if he didn’t know, he’s stupid. I am not a republican but he has insulted some mature and qualified women in the party by this choice. And how can Sarah be VP – she has a wedding to make and a 4 month old child with disabilities.

  3. TeamKlemm says:

    “And how can Sarah be VP – she has a wedding to make and a 4 month old child with disabilities.”

    What kind of philosophy is this? Is it the deocratic philosophy to stay at home with the kids and plan your daughters wedding? Should Hillary have been doing all her first lady duties when she had a young Chelsea to raise? Is this breaking the glass ceiling?
    –Lisa

  4. Pingback: Bristol Palin: Sara Palin Daughter : Bristol Palin Pregnant | Simon Said

  5. Ted says:

    This is a plus. As Mark Steyn points out in his recent best seller, America Alone, if our western civilization is demographically to survive in the increasingly “hostile to the west” islamic world — and not end up like the sinking European populations — these are the precise people (the Bristol Palins’) we should thank for increasing their progeny.

  6. Ludwig von Hapsburg says:

    I am going to go out on limb and predict this is a 24 hour news cycle story. Of course the media must run this and all other Palin questions through the ringer. I contest that the McCain camp did in fact know of this. How does one conceal a pregnancy 5 months in. Its not much of a story, and naysayers can claim the GOV lacks parental skills, but how old were you when you were getting laid? I am proud to say by the time I was 17, I had a few notches in my belt.

    And don’t compel the argument b/c Hillary sure wasn’t minding Bill’s cigar humidor for a while in the 90s.

    I commend the Palin’s for raising a kid who is keeping an “premature blessing” and I still reserve the right to be cool with anyone making that decision, or any alternatives.

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