Two new books from Oxford University Press try to explain the results of the 2008 presidential election. They are The Obama Victory: How Media, Money and Message Shaped the 2008 Election by Kate Kenski, Bruce W. Hardy, and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, and The Performance of Politics: Obama's Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power by Jeffrey Alexander. Richard Baehr reviews both for American Thinker, and here are some excerpts which reference McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate:
The question of Palin's readiness might have also been applied to Obama, a man with fancy degrees but a very thin resume on the national scene, running for the top spot, not the second one on the ticket. Speech-making prowess is not the same as governing experience in terms of preparation and readiness for the job. But Obama's experience deficit never really became a major issue, and during the campaign -- particularly during the debates -- he passed the threshold test for acceptability as president.McCain pollster Bill McInturff had concluded that if his campaign had focused on Obama's connection to Wright, the Arizona Senator may have been able to win the Electoral College, but would have list the popular ballot by an estimated 3 million votes. McInturff actually worried that attacking Wright could result in urban violence, and he convinced the geniuses in charge of McCain's run that the imagined "riots" would undermine a McCain presidency. We can't help but ask which part of "G_D_ America" Team McCain didn't understand.
Alexander... is the first writer I have read to have noticed that during the first two weeks of September, Obama for the first time in the campaign seemed angry and off-stride. After being the "hot" candidate, the object of affection and hero-worship around the country and the world for nearly two years, all of a sudden, Palin was the newer, fresher face, even more dazzling. Obama seemed stressed to be out of the spotlight and not "the one."
Alexander is clearly a liberal, and one who was caught up in the Obama victory (this is apparent in the book's first pages describing the "magic" of Obama's election night victory as Alexander walked in Manhattan with his son). In detailing how the Palin selection gave McCain a jolt of momentum that wore off quickly, he describes the daily drip, drip, drip of stories from the mainstream media, obtained after each organization sent up small armies of reporters to dig for dirt on Palin in Alaska. As a surprise pick, there was plenty of interest in Palin, and there was nothing wrong with reporters trying to learn more about her. But if the Journolist saga of the last few weeks revealed anything significant about the mainstream liberal press, it is their behavior in two time periods in the 2008 campaign -- first looking to protect Obama after the Reverend Wright videos surfaced, and then trashing Palin after she arrived on the scene.
Alexander never questions why the major media showed so much less interest in Obama's Chicago than they did in Palin's Alaska. Palin immediately came under attack for things said by speakers in her church in Wasilla. Obama had been a national candidate for over a year before Brian Ross produced video of Reverend Wright. These explosive videos were for sale at the church, had the media been interested. Would John McCain have gotten a pass had he attended a racist church for twenty years and sat through Reverend Wright-like sermons?