Saturday, October 04, 2008

McCain Should Send Sarah and Todd Back to Michigan

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill at 10/04/08

State lawmakers say they were blindsided by the McCain campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan. I was a little surprised myself. So was Sarah Palin. She didn’t hear about it until Friday, after her debate with Joe Biden.

The decision was made on Thursday afternoon, just before the debate on Thursday night. It was an odd time to make a decision. The McCain campaign should recognize that in this volatile moment in which the Trickster appears to hold sway, the complete paradigm can change overnight and it changed again at the Palin/Biden debate. Palin was a hit. A big hit, so what might have been a good idea on Thursday afternoon might have become a bad idea by Friday. As Dick Morris said, Palin will awaken now as one who communicates to crowds with the abilities of Reagan and Bill Clinton and will be here as a political figure for years to come. And now in particular, people want to see her.

That is a good comparison and the handlers should consider working with Sarah and Todd as a cultural phenomenon rather than just an appealing but everyday political figure. She is much more and will become much more. Indeed, the entire future of the Republican Party may be hanging on her career. She will change politics but unlike Biden or the Bushes for example, she and Todd will bring a new dimension to a new and rising generation which will rise with her.

It might not have been a bad decision on Thursday afternoon. Team McCain as per Romney said they had low to minimal expectations of her performance. Romney is a great organizer. This assumes they were projecting on mainstream data and not expecting this great performance. Consider her a rising cultural figure bringing a new season to politics. The huge crowds she pulls clearly suggests that she is.

I was surprised to hear about the decision to pull out of Michigan because I can’t think of any place more attuned to the life style of the Palins in the lower 48 than Hemingway’s breathtakingly beautiful setting for his Nick Adams tales in the upcountry Lakes region. The Upper Peninsula in particular, where free and independent U-pers hunt for supper and raise their young ‘uns at the hockey rink. They are Sarah’s and Todd’s natural constituency.

Michigan is widely misunderstood by outsiders. Perhaps the bean counters were looking at the number of unemployed in Flint, and the number of abandoned houses in Detroit and not seeing the whole picture. Michigan has its own life force. It has a rugged heart and a good head. And it is unique in our history as it is the point-of-origin of American-based industrial imagination, something quite different from the English-based movement of the 1840s here in New England and the northeast. It shouldn’t be left behind.

McCain should send Todd and Sarah to the UP. Start there then head south and take a tour with Mitt Romney. (Is Romney running McCain’s campaign? Why not?) Then down to Ann Arbor, the only small town in American where you can find a great football game, a great hockey game and a few serene and quiet Buddhist temples as well. Call on Jeff Daniels, the actor, in Dexter. Maybe he can arrange a private showing of his local cult classic, Escanaba in da Moonlight, about coming of age in the family hunting grounds up in the UP. The Palins will understand.

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