I'm disheartened. It's clear that Barack Obama really understands that something big is happening to him right now ... but, to judge from this Wall Street Journal story, his planned response is exactly the wrong approach:
... Sen. Obama [is] pushing his team to remain focused. "We're simply not going to let this happen anymore," Sen. Obama told his close friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett during a phone call Wednesday, Ms. Jarrett said in an interview. Sen. Obama "used as firm and commanding voice as I've ever heard him use" in expressing a plan to "stay focused on John McCain rather than be distracted" by the Palin phenomenon, she said. She said the Palin pick and its impact were "unexpected."
In his regular calls with senior strategists Wednesday, Sen. Obama made clear that he wants to put an end to the tactics Republicans use every four years "to distract voters" from issues, a top adviser said....
Well, guess what, Barack? You're not going to "put an end to" those tactics by putting blinders on and continuing to ignore the elephant in the room. You can't just talk over the Myth of Palin -- especially not with speeches about economic policy. You need to neutralize the Myth of Palin. Then you can get people to listen to you.
How big a star is this so-called #2 on the ticket? This big:
Charles Gibson's interviews with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will form the basis of a special prime-time edition of "20/20" Friday, ABC said Wednesday.
...Gibson is having three separate interviews with Palin, ABC said. Parts of the interviews will be spread around other ABC news programs, including "Nightline" and "Good Morning America."
The prime-time special, at 10 p.m. EDT, will also include a bio of Palin by ABC's Kate Snow and a round-table discussion on the presidential race moderated by George Stephanopoulos....
Sorry -- I know a lot of readers think Gibson is just doing some sort of house-organ-of-the-GOP thing here -- but he wouldn't be doing this for Tim Pawlenty, or Mitt Romney, or even Joe Lieberman. Not a prime-time special. This is expected to be a ratings draw. And it will be.
Palin Fever is not going to go away.
You want more evidence that Team Obama doesn't recognize the light at the end of the tunnel as a train (in lipstick) bearing down at full speed and not slowing down? Here's Hillary Clinton yesterday:
... even given the opportunity through repeated questions from reporters, the woman who won "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" continued to refuse to attack or criticize Palin.
Asked about Palin and her candidacy, Clinton responded only that the campaign should be about the issues. "What I see as critical in this election ... are the differences over issues." She added, "What happens in people's lives is what really counts... That's what it should be about." ...
I originally thought this was the Clintons' petulance, but Greg Sargent says it's Team Obama's strategy:
...A quick word on this. Lots of you have written in to ask where Hillary is or why Hillary hasn't savaged Palin or why she hasn't been more visible at this moment.
Here's the deal. The Obama campaign is in the driver's seat on this kind of stuff. I'm told reliably by people in both the Obama and Clinton camps that there were discussions this weekend -- in advance of Hillary's appearance on Monday -- on how to proceed. Both Obama and Hillary advisers were in agreement that having Hillary personally attack Palin would result in a distraction and media circus that would create more problems than it would solve and would take the focus off McCain and the issues.
I haven't found any evidence yet that Obama's people wanted any more from Hillary on the Palin front than she's delivered....
"Result in a distraction and media circus"? PALIN ALREADY IS A DISTRACTION AND A MEDIA CIRCUS, DAMMIT! You can't prevent this sideshow -- you can only try to change its direction, and try to burst the Palin bubble.
And Sargent's piece jibes not only with the Journal story above but with this New York Observer story:
...Most of the former and present Clinton staffers interviewed for this story, as well as Mr. Obama's campaign, say that the limited role she has taken in advocating Mr. Obama's candidacy is by design, and that she is doing precisely what is asked of her.
We're not seeing more of her, in other words, because that's how they want it.
"If they asked Hillary to do more, she'd be happy to do it," said one Clinton adviser....
Now maybe, maybe this is poker-player Obama wisely, calmly waiting out hand after hand with regard to Palin, knowing that patience and the odds will eventually bring him a win. Maybe we'll say in November that he knew exactly what he was doing.
I'm having a hard time believing that. I'm afraid this is a Dukakis-level failure to grasp reality.