Back in the Pleistocene–when the smart money was still on Romney or Pawlenty as McCain’s running mate–there was some low leve chatter about whether the fact that the presumptive R nominee couldn’t “get himself on-line” was an issue. Although his technophobia didn’t win him any points, it didn’t build as an issue, either.
But here’s a bold prediction: the communication and discovery power of the internet will bring down Sarah Palin–and with her John McCain–before she ever gets going.
The resentment toward what is seen as McCain’s cynicism is everywhere today–everywhere except in organizations which both have web sites and take literally the Book of Revelations. Call them feminist flash mobs–and they’re not happy.
Then there’s the salacious stuff. I’ve already seen a picture of the governor which is obviously fairly recent and while far from pornographic, it will not go down well with her new uber-mensch James Dobson. There’s also plenty about the roving eye of her husband the Dude, and about the nastiness of her sister’s breakup with her state trooper husband.
Here’s my prediction: the McCain team–starting with the candidate himself–didn’t really understand the risk they were taking because they didn’t understand the ubiquity and power of the web. Most of this will turn out to be smoke–but there will be at least one fire in here.
Think about the probabilities, relative to 1984 when Tip O’Neill strong-armed the Mondale camp into picking Ferraro. The McCain squad had all Palin’s best stuff–her speeches, her poll numbers, her video clips. Her team doubtless made the best case they could possibly make. The chance that she would surprise on the upside with her performance in September and October was slim to none.
The downside is almost limitless, though. As a below-the-radar figure, she will bring out the most ravenous instincts of a hungry press, which now employs 24-hour, highly tech-savvy and ridiculously inexpensive discovery squads in developing countries to uncover something–anything to besmirch the nominee.
And the worst part is that given how McCain minimizes the power and importance of technology, the gulf between what his vetting team has turned up and what the relentless swarm of professionals will discover over the next two months has a good chance of being really big.