McCain's dirty, sleazy ads and his unprincipled pick of Sarah Palin--a pure gambit aimed at stoking the cultural wars with absolute disregard for the national interest--threw the game into flux for a while. Check out the always brilliant Red State Update for some satirical analysis of Palin's appeal (especially 4:20 to the end):
But the only lasting significance of Sarah Palin's pick is in riling up the evangelical base. Palin will probably put Ohio decisively out of play. The woman is a walking, talking gay marriage amendment for our fundamentalists brothers and sisters. That's ok. At the end of the day, it is all a numbers game. And the other numbers are not bad, folks.
I won't run through all of them here because I can't beat Al Giordano's analysis. Check it out.
And I can't say it better than this:
It really is a ground game. The 2008 presidential election is about registering those voters mentioned above, and getting them out to vote. Period. End of story. Little else matters.
So pay no mind to the armchair generals that try to get you riled up over their (mostly terribly errant) obsessions regarding "messaging" matters (the "What Obama Must Do" crowd), few of whom have any real experience managing, much less winning campaigns of any magnitude at all. To them who hold themselves up and out there as "experts" on campaign strategy and tactics, I'll borrow a line that Beckel applied to politics a quarter-century ago: "Where's the beef?"
The beef is in the ground game. And the rank-and-file volunteer making phone calls and going door to door is a hundred times more important this year than any fool shouting "'hit them' is a strategy" from the bleachers. Register someone to vote: that's the square hit to the jaw, and multiplied by millions, it's the knock out punch. This year, the boxing gloves are not in one man's hands. They're in yours.
If you live in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, and Maine, you must, must, must spend as much time over the next two months as you have registering people to vote and turning them out to vote. If you are a long suffering progressive in Nebraska, Al Giordano points out that you could help Obama win Omaha's electoral vote--and the ENTIRE election could swing on that vote. Yes, damn it, it's that important. In fact, if you are a long suffering progressive in Utah or South Dakota, get your ass to Omaha a few weekends over the next two months. The Kansas contingent in New Hampshire were some of the Obama campaign's fiercest warriors, and I know they haven't given up on Kansas yet, but if the polls there keep looking bad--Kansans, please head to Omaha or make it a real border war in Missouri.
In New Hampshire, I remember promoting a meme that didn't quite catch on. But here's another shot at it.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3
When you go out there and fight in a truly righteous cause like this one, when you take concrete action to put someone like Barack Obama in office--one of the truly most brilliant, gifted people we have ever had the privilege of electing to high office in this country--you are truly fortunate.
You can dine out for years on the experience of knocking on those doors, making those calls, and having those passionate conversations with undecided voters and swaying them. When someone says "God! I still can't believe Obama actually won!" you can smile quietly and feel really damn good about yourself. Best deal around.