McCain Cedes Spotlight to Palin
I’ve been surfing the Intertubes for what seems like hours, determined to find new and interesting news about Sen. John McCain. It turns out this is more difficult than one might think.
Ever since McCain announced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, it’s been all-Palin, all-the-time. Granted, I’m guilty of contributing to this, but I’m trying to do my bit to change the subject.
Then it occurred to me, this is almost certainly by design. McCain is so last month.
Aside from picking Palin, he really hasn’t done anything genuinely newsworthy in weeks. The press is bored. They follow him all over the country, only to spend most of the day on a plane or in a hotel. When he does give an interview, he’s grumpy. Palin is new, and more important, she is relatively unknown. She represents a blank slate upon which reporters can fix their gaze.
It’s a win-win for the McCain campaign. It owns the headlines; yet the candidate doesn’t need to do anything. The old guy gets a break from the spotlight and doesn’t have to worry about generating bad press. He’ll have to go back to work for an hour tonight, but he’s got a built-in boost from a solid day of pundits and partisans fawning all over his running mate. Palin stays relentlessly on message — because she doesn’t take questions.
That’s how it’s likely to stay. Marc Ambinder asks the question: will she do interviews? At some point she’ll have to — but the McCain camp will no doubt delay that as long as possible. At least until the buzz wears off. There’s no benefit putting her into risky, unscripted situations when she controls the news cycle simply by reading a speech they wrote for her.
Eventually, the novelty will wear off. But the longer the focus remains on Palin — the better for McCain.