I was thinking about this while running this weekend.
It's clear that Palin's selection was partly about nullifying the effect of Obama's best-speech-ever performance at the DNC. And, to a large extent, it worked. The Speech is off the news pages and video reports and Palin and McCain are featured. The old adage "any news is good news" says that PR can keep the candidate's name and face front-and-center and in the public's eye. But I'm thinking this one completely backfired.
Obama gives a killer speech, the culmination to several killer speeches, including the best of Hillary's career (My wife the communications professor: "It's clear she's been watching and taking notes of Obama's style. She's combining the best of her style and the best of his.")
All the press, including conservative press and electronic media, note that quality and content of the speech, the details it offered, the way he held the attention and focus of 80K+ people--and 38 million viewers--and the way he delivered a newer, more populist message. One day of 90% positive reviews.
Then McCain nominates some unknown runner-up-beauty-queen moose-eating governor from the Alaskan wildlands, and the press, to a person, drops Obama and focuses 24/7 on our Bright Shiny Object, Ms. Palin.
But: Obama is now fixed in the public's mind, and to a large extent in the mind of the press, as the consummate professional, the adult in the room, with details covered and an intelligent platform presented. He's the head of his united party and the image of him and his VP candidate are fixed in our collective cultural minds.
The usual eat-the-celebrity feeding fest that the media dives into the week after an event, especially a Democratic event, is, if you'll pardon the expression, stillborn.
So, McCain is seen for a week on TeeVee and the papers as a bumbling fool making a huge gamble, only in this case it's not his reputation or his campaign that's on the table, but our country. The week of his own convention, no less! This week should be the all-positive coverage of the Republican convention, with one speaker after another paraded before the American people, pitching their favorite maverick as God's own president. Instead we've got an increasingly seedy diet of corrupt small-town politics and regrettable family drama.
What a contrast. What are McCain's people thinking? Do they think this is Hollywood and they are working for Britney? Dumb stunts are cool, cause, like, she's famous?
I honestly think the McCain campaign sealed their fate. They've fixed in our mind's eye the camera's image of Obama after the speech, cool and collected; a winner--he looked like he's on the medal podium with the gold around his neck--with his team of professional and effective leaders around him.
And McCain's image is now old, unprofessional, and out of touch, but a nice enough guy hanging with the hunting crowd eating mooseburgers, sometimes eying the younger wives. Uncle Mac down at the Do Drop Inn, spending his golden years drinking beers with the guys wearing CAT hats, while their teenage children are having uprotected sex in the back of the Chevy.
Now that's some seriously stupid marketing.