Friday, August 29, 2008

Canary On the Phoneline

For the record, my mother is a smart woman. Educated, talented, works a six-figure job, and raised - with all due humility - several fine children. And you do not ever want to go up against her in a puzzle game because she will crush you and your hopes. She's not a saint, she's just the average working mother. But when it comes to politics, she's about as low-information a voter as it gets.

So, when I called her tonight (Her birthday's coming up and - yikes - I need to figure out what to get.) and the subject turned to McCain's veep choice (I have a pathological weakness for political coverage. I devour a daily diet that's both massive and probably unhealthy for me. So, I'm her go-to when it comes to politics.) I knew the Republican message machine was in trouble when even she saw the pick as a shameless ploy to get women voters.

That wasn't quite her phrasing, of course, but her first response was to worry about whether other women were going to "fall for it", and that's not a good sign.

The plural of data and all but my mother is exactly the demographic that McCain's probably hoping to grab here. Blue-collar girl from a battleground state, Reagan Dem who loathes Bush but isn't sure about Obama (She never really said but I got the feeling that she would have like to see Clinton get the nod. Not because she agrees with her policies - we're talking someone who cares more about what Simon and Paula think than Broder and Kos, you know? - but because she'd really like to see a woman president. Just once. And she's old enough that she knows that might have been the best chance for a while.) - the woman even voted for Perot, for heaven's sake.

An independent-in-name looking for a third way, in other words. And she's looking past the choice of someone with the right set of chromosomes and into the reasoning behind that decision. If she's not alone, then McCain might have won the newscycle, but he's just lost the election.

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