Dan Balz is generally a reliable avatar of press corps conventional wisdom. And he thinks that by picking the nationally near-unknown Sarah Palin as his VP nominee, McCain of the Many Houses shows us ... he's a Maverick! (With Pick, McCain Reclaims His Maverick ImageWashington Post 08/30/08)
Why is this a mavericky move? Why, because McCain's campaign said it was going to be mavericky!
John McCain's advisers predicted weeks ago that the presumptive Republican nominee would use his national convention week to try to recapture his image as a maverick reformer and shake up the presidential race. He did just that Friday with his surprise choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.
The "maverick" image that the national reporters adore so much was based on McCain's alleged willingness to defy Republicans on this or that issue. This pick is mavericky because ... it shows how hard the Maverick is willing to pander to the most ideologically rigid of the Republican base:
Picking Palin also helps McCain consolidate his party's conservative base, which has been at best lukewarm toward his candidacy. The governor's conservative credentials are not in doubt, whether on abortion or gun rights or gay rights. The announcement of her elevation to the Republican ticket brought an outpouring of enthusiasm from the right flank of the GOP and will assure a more energized convention next week in St. Paul, Minn. [my emphasis]
But apparently she once said a critical word or two about some Alaska Republican, or something like that, so that means she's a maverick, too!
But what tipped the balance toward Palin was that she gives McCain a partner with a record of challenging the establishment in her own party and in Anchorage, reinforcing the case that he would be more fearless and effective than Obama in taking on special interests in Washington.
Maybe they put some kind of brain-numbing agent in the water coolers at the major news organizations. I mean, you don't have to heavily drugged to simply retype the campaign's press releases. But it probably doesn't hurt.
Some make more efforts that others to change the wording a bit. Currently at the McCain campaign site, they feature an editorial from Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal of 08/30/08 that says:
If any doubt remained that former fighter pilot John McCain loves to take unconventional risks, he put them to bed Friday by picking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Introduced in Dayton by Mr. McCain, Governor Palin swung the bat pretty well. We'll now see if she can hit curve balls.
It's a daring pick because Mrs. Palin has never faced national scrutiny and hasn't had to deal with foreign policy. Most VP choices are designed to do no harm, and we tend to agree with the maxim. Democrats are already saying they can't wait for Mrs. Palin's debate against "statesman" Joe Biden. On the other hand, the record shows that Sarah Palin's political career is a case study in taking on the big boys. We suspect her record of fighting the status quo was uppermost in John McCain's decision.
Barack Obama aside, Senator McCain's biggest problem is a Republican brand that has suffered - both among independents and the GOP base - from the party's business-as-usual mentality in Washington. The public wants change. This pick could prove Mr. McCain is serious about changing his party. [my emphasis]
Pretty much the same spin Dan Balz put on it in his "news" article. Oh, excuse me, news analysis. An alternative, of course, would be to "analyze" it by saying that this is the McCain campaign's preferred interpretation. And if you were, say, a leading Washington Post reporter with additional staff assistance to help, you could actually "analyze" whether the frigging claims were true!
Also, I would observe that when the Wall Street Journal praises a politician for supposedly bravely standing up to the selfish energy industry, any sentient being would be likely to have a moment of puzzlement at what might lie behind that. But if my growing suspicions about the national press corps, androids and Invasion of the Body Snatchers attacks is correct, that doesn't mean our Establishment press would have such reactions.
By paragraph six, Balz does start quoting the campaign directly instead of just retyping their campaign copy. It was obvious that selecting her made it contradictory for the Republicans to argue that Obama was too inexperienced. But authoritarians can live with more screaming contradictions than most of us can manage without our heads exploding. Of course, being stone-cold cynical also helps in making wildly contradictory arguments:
But Mark Salter, one of McCain's closest confidants, said Friday that the campaign will argue that Palin's experience actually exceeds Obama's, both as an executive and as a hard-charging reformer willing to take on not just special interests but her own party as well. "Obama has no such record," Salter said.
Here's a quote from the formal campaign press release before the Dan Balzes got their chance to recycle it as "news" and "analysis":
Governor Palin is a tough executive who has demonstrated during her time in office that she is ready to be president. She has brought Republicans and Democrats together within her Administration and has a record of delivering on the change and reform that we need in Washington.
Governor Palin has challenged the influence of the big oil companies while fighting for the development of new energy resources. She leads a state that matters to every one of us -- Alaska has significant energy resources and she has been a leader in the fight to make America energy independent.
In Alaska, Governor Palin challenged a corrupt system and passed a landmark ethics reform bill. She has actually used her veto and cut budgetary spending. She put a stop to the "bridge to nowhere" that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars. [my emphasis]
But Dan Balz gives us some mindreading not normally available in campaign press releases. You know, McCain is such a Maverick his fanboys like Balz know he must have really wanted someone even more mavericky:
McCain's heart may have been with two supporters of abortion rights: former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a fellow Vietnam War veteran and an old McCain pal from their days in the House, and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut who has been a regular traveling companion of McCain's on the campaign trail.
Meanwhile, the foulmouthed hippie bloggers are trying to check out Palin's actual record. Neil here at The Blue Voice notices that Palin supported the far-right campaign of Pat Buchanan in 1999. And the Pat Buchanan of today says, "It's great for the base. I'm pretty sure she's a Buchananite!"