James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Pressure now on McCain, GOP

Posted by James McPherson on August 29, 2008

It appears that, as expected, John McCain will announce his running mate today in an effort to decrease Barack Obama’s post-convention bounce in the polls. Republicans should hope, of course, that voters don’t make one interesting coincidental connection–the fact that the Bush administration and McCain have made an art of releasing bad news on Fridays so as to draw as little attention as possible.

We don’t yet know what Obama’s convention bounce will be (I expect 8-12 percent over where he was when the convention started), and as I’ve stated previously, the polls don’t mean a lot at this point, anyway. Nor do we know what impact McCain’s choice for VP might have. One fascinating note for me: Fox News is noting this morning (though Drudge disagrees) that Sarah Palin might be the pick–which would mean both McCain and Obama made the selections I said they should (though I doubt either of them was reading my blog for advice).

It does seem that Obama and other key Democrats–Hillary and Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama in particular–did what they wanted to do in their convention, and that last night Obama gave a speech worthy of the grand venue chosen for it. That puts more pressure on McCain and his party to do well this week at their own convention, assuming the weather and events cooperate.

Incidentally, one respondent has suggested that because I noted that Tropical Storm Gustov may put a dent in the Republicans’ ability to get their message out, I actually was hoping for a hurricane. That contention is both ludicrous and insulting, of course. Unlike Pat Robertson and a few other assorted nuts, I don’t believe God uses hundreds or thousands of weather-related deaths to punish sinners (remember the Noah’s Ark rainbow story from Sunday School?), and no rational person would wish for a natural disaster under any circumstances.

Analyzing the media and politics is what I do in my real job, not just as a blog hobby. But suggesting that what I predict MAY happen is an expression of my own desire makes little sense. After all, you may recall that I predicted that Obama, Hillary Clinton and McCain would all be leading presidential candidates even before any of them announced their intent to run–even though none of the three were among my two favorite candidates. I predicted years ago that George W. Bush would be a disaster as president, though for the sake of my country and its people I hoped otherwise. I predicted that Bush and a gutless Congress would take us to war in Iraq and that the war would last for years, though I opposed the war from the outset.

Besides, I hope the GOP convention goes off without a hitch and that the Republicans get their message out. As I hope I’ve made clear elsewhere in this blog, I think we need as much information as possible–even (and maybe especially) from sources with which we generally disagree–to make the choices necessary for meaningful self-government.

By the way, speaking of my real job, today I’m off on a day-long retreat and next week I go back to teaching four classes, advising a student newspaper, and participating in various committee roles and other activities. I’ve also promised to complete a book chapter within the next couple of weeks, and am organizing a January study program taking a dozen students to New York and Washington, D.C.

The point isn’t to garner sympathy (though I’ll take it), but to note that, though I’ve tried to post entries here at least four days a week throughout the summer, my frequency likely will decrease during the school year. Of course, there are a multitude of good sources in the links at the right side of this page to keep you busy on days I don’t happen to post.

Thanks for reading, and for any comments you feel moved to make. And have a great weekend.

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8 Responses to “Pressure now on McCain, GOP”

  1. Luis Lopez said

    Well, you were right once again, Jim. McCain picked Gov. Palin. I guess you really are clairvoyant.

    Now that the news is out this morning, here is my two cents on McCain’s pick.

    At the risk of sounding a wee bit controversial, I do not think McCain picked Palin for her experience. I think McCain picked her because she is a woman. Going over her list of the various jobs she has held, Palin served for four years on the Wasilla City Council in Alaska, and then became Mayor of Wasilla in 1996. Six years later she became governor of Alaska, and has served in that capacity for a little less than two years. Now, if McCain is truly the experience candidate, this is the best person he could come up with?

    As I said, I believe McCain picked Palin because she is a woman because I think he sees the potential to siphon off some former Hilary Clinton supporters who were completely dejected after Hilary lost the primaries. Moreover, I think McCain wants to be viewed as some sort of “maverick,” by being progressive and choosing a woman.

    Apart from those points, the selection of Palin presents an interesting dichotomy among the four candidates. For president, you have McCain, the so-called experienced candidate and Obama, the so-called inexperienced candidate. On the opposing side, you have Biden, the experienced one, and Palin, in my summation, the inexperienced one.

    This election just got a little bit more interesting.

  2. James McPherson said

    Maybe I should give up this teaching gig and hire myself out to one of the political campaigns–apparently I can give good advice even for Republicans!

    And I agree with you that Palin’s gender is much of the reason for the pick, along with the excitement generated by having a young female candidate (which might draw some of those seeking “difference” away from McCain, even a few pro-Clinton PUMAs if they ignore the fact that she’s probably even more conservative than he does).

    In short, if Hillary were on the Democratic ticket, Palin would not be on the Republican one. It does raise the question about how the GOP can continue to attack Obama for being too young or inexperienced, though. But you’re right–it will be interesting.

  3. […] call for his supporters to volunteer help the victims. And unlike a few wackier liberals, as I wrote a couple of days ago, I had hoped the GOP convention would be able to proceed without problems so […]

  4. […] The Obama convention bump, and the McCain bump in the road Posted in History, Journalism, Politics, Written elsewhere by James McPherson on September 2nd, 2008 If the polls are to be believed (and as I’ve written before, at this point they shouldn’t be taken too seriously), Barack Obama apparently got a perhaps-significant bump out of the Democratic National Convention. The lastest Gallup national tracking poll has him getting 50 percent of registered voters, up from 41 percent early in the convention (right in line with the 8-12 percent increase I predicted). […]

  5. […] Posted in Education, Journalism, Politics by James McPherson on September 4th, 2008 A week ago I wrote that the Democrats had achieved most of what they hoped for at their convention. After listening to […]

  6. […] James McPherson on September 7th, 2008 Back on Aug. 29 I said my posting frequency was probably about to decrease because I was starting school again, among other things. I then proceeded to post at least one […]

  7. […] heard. John McCain’s announcement that he had chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate was one notable exception, though some Republicans delusional enough to think McCain had a realistic chance of beating Obama […]

  8. […] a typical Friday move, at the end of last week the administration announced a plan that will let bureaucrats instead of […]

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