McCAIN IS GETTING A DOUBLE DO-OVER
According to instant polls, Barack Obama was the winner of every debate, particularly the final one. And the public thinks that Barack Obama was the clear winner in the running-mate selection sweepstakes.
But now the press is trying to give John McCain a do-over on both.
McCain was unpleasant last night, and Sarah Palin is a national joke, so now the press is distracting us with a surrogate for both McCain and Palin whom we're supposed to like more: "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher.
He may not work out -- he compared Obama to a tap-dancing Sammy Davis Jr., he apparently loves the Iraq War and thinks Social Security should be abolished, and it seems he's not registered to vote (UPDATE: wrong; he's a registered Republican) -- but the press is infinitely more comfortable with the old familiar narrative, the one in which a pugnacious Republican Daddy is exactly in sync with Average Joe and the pantywaist egghead Democrat is hopelessly out of touch, than it is with what America is saying now, which is We prefer the Democrat this year, dammit, so Joe the Plumber has the potential to return the press to its comfort zone.
That's why the press is trying to make Joe the Plumber both the new McCain (yes, another new McCain, but fingers are crossed in hopes that this one will be successful) and the new working-class hero, i.e., Sarah Palin 2.0.
I wish I were sure it won't work. I don't want to be complacent because of the instant polls last night -- polls initially showed that voters thought Gore won the first 2000 debate against Bush ... until the media latched onto the story that Gore's "sigh" in the debate was arrogant. A win then became a loss. It could happen again. I think the Obama people will find a way to deal with this -- but I'm somewhat concerned.
OH, AND: I'll bet you that, even though Obama soundly and accurately rebuffed the charge, McCain is going to go back out onto the campaign trail and repeat the charge that Joe the Plumber will have to pay a fine if his small business doesn't insure its workers. Repeating debunked falsehoods is SOP for the McCain-Palin campaign. That probably won't help him, though Joe himself might.