David B.




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September 1, 2008

Hurricane Gustav: McCain’s Perfect Post-Palin Storm


A few days ago, when Hurricane Gustav was still just a gleam in a meteorologist’s eye, a James Dobson/ “Focus on the Family” cultist named Stuart Shepard released a whimsical little YouTube video wherein he pleaded with viewers to pray for rain “of Biblical proportions” to wash out Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. (Video helpfully archived at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJY0NuBC7vo).


We have been told that Shepard’s “Lord” works in mysterious ways. Now we also know that sometimes he even displays a certain grim sense of humor.


While nary a drop landed on Barack Obama’s head, Shepard’s presumed candidate of choice, John McCain, now stands to be engulfed by an Old Testament-sized disaster of his own, with wayward God-willed precipitation likely to be a determinative element in the outcome.


Hurricane Gustav has already laid waste to day one of McCain’s St. Paul coronation ceremonies, with further cancellations or delays likely. Evidently bad press stemming from McCain’s public birthday partying with President Bush on an airport tarmac at the same precise second that hundreds of New Orleans residents were drowning during Hurricane Katrina was enough to convince McCain that staging a lavish party love-in synchronously with Gustav might be perceived as poor taste.


Dick Cheney and Bush have since announced their plans to sit the convention out. Hundreds of disappointed Louisiana delegates are being hustled onto charter flights back home so that they might be on hand to watch the catastrophe unfold in person. Whatever form the GOP convention ultimately takes, it can hardly be the sort of triumphal public deification that McCain’s dreamed of lo these many years.


McCain’s biggest problem is a gathering storm of his own making, the swirl of incredulity and disgust surrounding his anointed vice-presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The moose-shooting, abortion-hating, trooper-firing northern lightweight is gradually being revealed as a campaign albatross via a welter of revelations the McCain team evidently couldn’t be bothered to preemptively unearth.


An reported earlier endorsement of noted anti-Semite presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, a public pronouncement that she “didn’t know what the vice president does,” and embarrassing tape recordings detailing her complicity in the “troopergate” scandal were a few of the first Palin facts to make the media rounds in the first 48 hours after the announcement of her selection – hardly an auspicious start to a successful general election campaign.


Had Shepard’s prayed-for deluge failed to materialize, the convention could have served as just the right means to deflect attention from Palin’s failings and muzzle her detractors. Misty-eyed biographical videos of this public servant mother of five would have oozed from television screens from coast to coast. A tightly-constructed Palin speech, penned by the best propagandists the GOP could muster, could have focused attention on Palin’s curb-appeal characteristics while blotting out the embarrassing details of her biography.  Had Gustav not reared his ugly head, McCain could have maintained control of a weeks’ worth of successive news cycles, building a case for his ill-chosen sidekick as well as his policies. It was not to be.


With the stalling of the convention and with the turning of media attention to impending natural disaster in the gulf states, McCain loses control of the narrative surrounding his ill-chosen running mate. The timely pro-Palin propaganda blitz the convention would have provided could have enabled McCain to successfully extend the initial gee-whiz-he-nominated-a-girl media response into the defining narrative of her candidacy. Upstaged by the answer to Shepard’s prayers, he will have no such opportunity. By the time media attention reverts to Palin, the focus will be upon her litany of failings instead. The intervening delay only affords McCain opponents the time needed to unearth every last ugly detail of Palin’s less-than-illustrious career and to propagate them.


Thanks to Gustav and a lousy VP vetting process, McCain’s candidacy stands to enjoy an ultimate failure even more inglorious than his detractors could have dreamed of. Before Gustav, McCain/Palin already had the potential to backfire badly. Taking Gustav into account, it now stands to become a national joke.

© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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