Sarah Palin and Joe Biden both did well last night, in my view—if you ignore the truth values of their assertions. The McCain campaign has compiled a list of Biden’s fourteen lies (quite a slide from Wilson’s fourteen points!) and that doesn’t include the howlers about the role of the Vice-President (this man is on the Judiciary Committee?) and the U.S. and France kicking Hezbollah out of Lebanon (why are they still there?). Palin did call the U.S. general in charge of Afghanistan ‘McClellan’, but I thought that was a sly pun/criticism/Freudian slip/Civil War reference rather than a mistake. I was most struck by Biden citing as his main achievement what I consider his greatest sin—the thorough politicization of our judicial vetting process. He’s the man who turned ‘Bork’ into a verb, and he’s proud of it.
There’s a pattern to Biden’s lies that the McCain campaign needs to take advantage of. Obama ran in the primaries as the candidate furthest to the left. He’s now trying to pass himself off as a centrist, whose differences from McCain are relatively insignificant. Biden consistently tried to minimize the difference between the two candidates, all the while saying “there’s a big difference.” McCain needs to run ads reminding peolple of what Obama (and Biden, who often criticized Obama) said in the primaries. I’d suggest they start here.
Republicans have a built-in advantage in Presidential politics. They can tell the truth about their positions throughout the primary and general election seasons. The Democrats can’t. They have to change their tunes dramatically between the two stages of the campaign, simply because the center of political gravity of the Democratic activists who vote and caucus in the primaries is so far from the country’s overall center of political gravity. If Republicans press that advantage, they win. If they don’t, they lose.