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Selling Sarah (We Just Gotta Have More Controversy!)

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Unless you recently emerged from a coma, you know I'm talking about Sarah Palin, the VP candidate who emerged on the '08 election scene so spectacularly, she's known by just one name now -- like Madonna and Britney and Xtina.

Two weeks ago most Americans had never heard of Palin. Today she makes Barack Obama look like yesterday's celebrity, the one you don't Google as much anymore. By any measure this was an extraordinary "product launch," and one that forced the Democrats back on their heels. How, exactly, did the GOP do it?

Start a controversy...

Controversy is a great way for a product -- or a candidate -- to become well known. Take GoDaddy, which sells e-business software. Every year they put a half-naked chick in their NFL Super Bowl commercial, which ultimately gets banned from TV. Naturally this makes us curious, so everyone clicks on GoDaddy.com to check out the new babe. CEO Bob Parsons calls this marketing strategy "fun, edgy and a bit inappropriate." (Remind you of anyone, Democrats?)

Go ahead, ruffle a few feathers...

Look at Michael Moore, who uses controversy to promote his movies. It's no coincidence Fahrenheit 9/11 became a heated topic of national debate and an unprecedented documentary success, grossing more than $100 million on a $6 million investment. In the Wall Street Journal, Merissa Marr said "Picking a fight with the opposition is a key component of this type of marketing plan." (Sound familiar, Democrats?)

Create a backlash...

Questions about Palin's VP qualifications were raised almost immediately. But many Obama supporters in the media went too far. In the New York Times, Judith Warner called Palin a "humiliation for America's women."

Say, what, Ms. Warner? Palin is a mother of five and the governor of Alaska. And she didn't get the gig because she's some guy's wife or daughter. "Sarah Palin is very accomplished," Hilary Rosen, HuffPo political director, told CNN's Larry King. But Rosen was too late to stop the maelstrom. Here's a sampling of responses to Judith Warner's remarks:

Those are some sour grapes, Judith. Just because the GOP practices a little affirmative action, women should be humiliated? So what do we tell the other candidate who's benefiting from affirmative action?

--posted by Peter

Meeow. What a perfectly catty little column.
--posted by S. Collins

Are feminist critics bothered most by the thought the first female VP might not be a feminist? You simply don't like her positions. And that's okay. But drop the self-righteous drivel. That is so 1980s.
--posted by Henry

This demonstrates something I've thought for years -- women are held down mostly by other women.
--posted by Observer

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

HuffPo blogger Mayhill Fowler said, "A possible endgame in this election is that liberal media, particularly in the blogosphere and on cable news, will through their ridicule and cultural misunderstanding so incense small-town America that they'll drive those voters into the McCain-Palin camp."

Ya think? According to Nielsen, more than 37 million people watched Palin's acceptance speech. An implausible 38.9 million people watched McCain's acceptance speech. John McCain got more viewers than Barack Obama! Would so many people have watched without all the controversy?

But what if Palin had stumbled during her speech? Whoops, ha, ha... members of McCain's inner circle had videotapes of her previous speaking engagements. They knew how Palin would perform. This is called "being played" Dems and you fell for it. Again.

Poor Barack Obama. He understands what's going on. He accused GOP rivals on Wednesday of stirring phony outrage over a colloquial comment he made one day earlier about putting "lipstick on a pig," which he said was a clear reference to McCain's policies and not a derogatory slur against Palin. But nobody's listening, because we're in the Matrix. It's 1999, and Dems are once again calling a Republican candidate unqualified. But this time all the controversy generated by their cheap shots might put McCain-Palin in the White House. Somehow, I imagined Democrats would be smarter this time.