By giving a far right speech, Palin - as well as the convention itself - has made the job of defining McCain a lot easier. The past two nights have vividly confirmed what progressives have been saying for the last nine months - John McCain is the same as George Bush. While refusing to mention Bush's name last night, the convention speakers supported all of his policies and even went a bit further on some. The convention to this point has served to strengthen the progressive message and has left McCain's independent "maverick" image in tatters.
Despite the heaps of past evidence and almost all of McCain's policy positions lining up with Bush, the press has been fairly resistant to this line of argument. They remember their times at the back of the bus and the few moments many years ago when McCain seemed genuinely independent. The message of McCain = Bush played much better with the public then with the press, since the public lacked the same biases.
But that has changed. The McCain campaign lost the press last night. The resentment had been building since the McCain campaign decided to end the gaffe-prone conversations on the straight talk express and run a more tight-lipped and disciplined campaign. It was furthered this week by the ridiculous crying from the McCain campaign about the press' coverage of Palin's record. And then last night, having been endlessly badgered by the McCain campaign to lay off poor gentle Palin, the press sat through one of the most vicious speeches in our lifetime. You could sense the betrayal. John McCain once an "independent straight talker" that worked with them, had not only fully embraced the right but had done so at their expense.
The space is now open for a full-on Bush-McCain ad offensive. The press finally buys it and I bet the number of press references to McCain being a maverick starts to decline. And after this week's convention, independents will likely find such an argument even more persuasive.
The big winner last night was not Sarah Palin, it was McSame.