Everyone should check out this excellent Ben Smith post on the road not taken by Republican operatives in 2008. I’ve expressed my frustration with this phenomenon before, but Smith does a fantastic job of explaining why the naked cultural appeals of McCain’s media enablers are so politically ineffective.
It’s also worth noting that it didn’t have to be this way. Our worsening economic recession does not mean a Democratic win was written in the stars. If Joe the Plumber can articulate a coherent, effective critique of Obama’s economic policies, why can’t John McCain explain his response to domestic problems without sounding like a complete moron? For all her charisma, Governor Palin’s approach is hardly an improvement – someone really ought to tell her that crying “socialism” is not a compelling rejoinder to Obama’s tax proposals.
In 1992, Ross Perot (of all people) made an effective case for fiscal austerity in the midst of an economic downturn. The appeal of small-government conservatism – particularly in a country that most characterize as “center-right” – does not disappear when the stock market takes a dive. It does, however, require an effective political messenger. On that count, the McCain/Palin ticket – and the conservative media – have failed miserably.