August 29th, 2008

Stimulating the Circulation

As I pondered John McCain's choice of running mate throughout the day, I rapidly moved through a series of opinions. It was stupid, I concluded. And then, just a little later, it seemed brilliant. Then it was stupid again, though for a different reason. Back and forth I went. What I eventually decided, though, was that this move, conjectured by some insiders but a big surprise to most of us, was first and foremost an attempt to inspire this sort of protracted scrutiny. That is, in picking Sarah Palin, McCain guaranteed that he would prod professional and amateur pundits alike to discuss his campaign with far greater fervor than if he had made a "safe" choice like Mitt Romney. The adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity certainly applies here. But it's also a little too diffuse in my estimation, because what the McCain campaign seems to have decided, taking a page from Barack Obama's Art of War, is that playing to the blogosphere and its cable-news corollary was more important than choosing someone who would make sense in terms of the strategy it had been pursuing until now. Arguing that Obama lacks the necessary experience simply won't fly now. Perhaps McCain and his advisers determined that Joe Biden was going to make that argument less effective. Whatever the reasoning, though, people like me feel compelled to do what I'm doing now, which may be a bigger boon to the Republican Party than conventional support.