Will anyone notice that Palin is simply a debased female version of Bush? Will the fact that she is obviously unqualified to be president mean anything? Will voters be enraged that by picking Palin, McCain has turned American politics into a sitcom, a cheap farce? Or will the culture war still be a winner for the GOP?
It depends on whether eight disastrous years have revived the reality-based community -- or whether the same time-tested right-wing culture-war tactics will work even when the ideas and policies behind them have abjectly failed.
There are some hopeful signs to go along with the torrent of bad news for Democrats. A Newsweek poll that came out late Friday found that 22 percent of people say she makes them less likely to vote for McCain -- the highest percentage of a V.P. pick in recent history. Palin's dreadful performance in her Gibson interviews could be responsible for this. But it's too early to say.
So far, McCain has benefited from the fight that has erupted over Palin, because it is part of the culture war that is insidiously connected to a politics of emotional identification, narcissism and resentment. The Democrats always lose when the battle is fought on this terrain, the terrain of impulse and the id. If they can change the battleground to issues and reality, they can win.
And this is a really good analysis comparing the tribalism cultivated by GOP stoking of white working-class resentment with the demogoguery of Marion Barry and what that wrought for D.C.--D.C. being a microcosm of what happens when we allow our resentments and tribal loyalties outweigh all other considerations:
The thing is, we deserve to know exactly what manner of country we are living in. Are we living in a place where people think claiming to be offended is actually a qualifier for national office? Does our citizenry actually think that Obama is a Muslim, and worse, that being a Muslim is a disqualifier? Do we actually believe that a presidential candidate of a major party would endorse sex ed for Kindergarten? At this critical moment, are these the issues that sway us? In the 1960s, Baldwin warned us of integrating into a burning house. I need to know precisely what manner of house we've entered.