So the election has come and gone. I was, of course, hoping for a McCain-Palin win, but I was braced for an Obama victory. Yet, it's funny, no matter how much you steel yourself against something, it still comes as something of a shock when it actually happens. It's like a dear sick relative that has been living on borrowed time, and you know what's happening, but you still can't help but grieve when the inevitable comes.
However, the 2010 mid-terms begin today. The 2012 Presidential race begins today. One of the retrospective mistakes the GOP made after the 2004 victory was that they took a deep breath and relaxed a bit. The Dems, however, dug in their heels and were determined not to allow any legislative victories to GWB. It began with their fight against Social Security reform. When that went down in flames, Bush's approval rating began its descent and he never recovered.
Looking at this 2008 election there are certainly lessons to be learned, and that can start with debunking certain falsehoods.
- Obama won in a landslide
You are going to see that passed around liberally (pun intended). I don't know if there is a formal definition for a landslide, but this is not one. He won the national vote by less than 6%. Yes, he won all of the close states, but those were all states with close votes in 2004, and the statewide polling followed the shift in national polling.
- Obama ran the most brilliant campaign ever
Please. I will give credit where credit is due. Obama ran a very smart campaign. They were well-organized. They were excellent fund raisers. Obama himself stayed on his simple message (Bush = McCain, McCain = Bush). He made very few mistakes. He was an effective debater in the sense that he was always good at making his answers conform to his short list of talking points. However, to say he ran the most brilliant campaign ever is a stretch. He entered the general election season with a modest lead. He exits the general election season with a modest win (nationally). He basically ran out the clock and took few risks. He also had the built in advantage of having a very unpopular incumbent President from the opposing party. He also had a media that was (charitably speaking), ahem, a bit favorable to him. Add into that equation a great deal of fortuitous timing. If Lehman Brothers and the other financial institution don't melt down in mid-September, this thing goes down to the wire, neck-and-neck. The external events could not have played out any better for him. Once that happened, undecided voters didn't care any longer about his lack of experience, his associations, his far-left liberal views, etc. They just decided to boot out the party currently holding the Presidency just to see if the other guy could do any better.
- Sarah Palin was a drag on the ticket
Sarah is probably the biggest reason McCain did as well as he did. Without Sarah, the GOP convention is an absolute bust and McCain gets no bounce. Without Palin, there was no consolidation of the conservative base. Without Palin, there would have been few attacks on Obama because McCain seemed reluctant to do so. Palin being portrayed as a drag on the ticket is the next phase of the MSM to diminish her. They seem to be done with "stupid, ignorant bumpkin" phase. In the last month of the campaign, she was the most accessible of the 4 candidates, doing constant interviews. She gave the MSM nothing to ridicule (certainly no whoppers like Biden had which were largely ignored by the MSM). So now they are going to try to say that the GOP itself has rejected her and that she has caused division within the ranks, etc. Yet wherever she went, huge crowds attended.
I will say this, there have been some rumors (Laura Ingram and others) saying that Sarah is going to be made out to be the fall guy (or gal as the case may be) by the GOP in the aftermath of the election. We've already heard stories about Romney supporters disparaging her. I don't know the validity of all that. But the GOP would be making a grave mistake if they throw Sarah under the bus. They would risk losing the support of many, myself included. This lady went from being little known to becoming one of the most recognized people on the planet almost overnight. She went from being the most highly approved governor in the US to being served to the wolves. She was the victim of the most vicious and coordinated set of attacks (many of them highly personal) that I've ever witnessed. Yet she weathered the blows and always came back fighting in her own spunky way. After a tough loss, there is always going to be some finger-pointing but it shouldn't be directed at Sarah. Last thing GOP needs right now is a fracturing of the base, and heaping blame on Sarah would do that.
Keep the faith.