[Opinion] – The mavericks meet the media

The John McCain camp began a pre-emptive attack on Barack Obama last week, wolves included, but their strikes were no more thought-out than the Bush doctrine. After a series of proxy ad wars, the mavericks got put to the test Friday with unscripted appearances on âÄúGood Morning America,âÄù âÄúThe ViewâÄù and the âÄúRachel Ray Show.âÄù An uncomfortable McCain took a lashing on âÄúThe ViewâÄù about low-blow distortion ads that claimed Obama is for âÄúlearning about sex before learning how to read.âÄù It was in fact a dug-up lie, conflating ObamaâÄôs approval of carefully warning young kids about sexual abuse with comprehensive sex education for kindergartners. With his pants on fire, McCain muttered, âÄúHave you seen some of the ads that are running against me?âÄù Luckily, McCainâÄôs wife, Cindy, wore the real pants that morning and responded with actual answers to real issues like abortion and Russian aggression. Gov. Sarah Palin took a harder beating in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska where respected ABC news anchor Charles Gibson carefully prodded her on some meaty questions. The Barracuda showed the power of her biting, defensive tone while straining to stay above water. Gibson asked Palin if AlaskaâÄôs proximity to Russia was in fact a sufficient credential, in which Palin explained that, âÄúYou can actually see Russia from land in Alaska.âÄù After Gibson explained George W. BushâÄôs controversial foreign policy principles on preventative war to a confused Palin, she exclaimed that she did in fact agree and strongly urged that, âÄúWe must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink.âÄù Her policy advisers will definitely suggest that she not blink during her two-week political cramfest, or she may miss important sections in her study manual, âÄúThe IdiotâÄôs Guide to Running America, Commanding a War and Saving a Devastated Economy.âÄù Despite her inexperience and verbal fumbling, people still love Palin. Maybe itâÄôs the sexy librarian glasses, maybe itâÄôs because itâÄôs fun to follow gun-toting granny gossip. For Republicans and Americans, it doesnâÄôt matter. McCain has held a one point lead for over a week, and heâÄôs not afraid of getting dirty. With respect to the hurricane crisis early Saturday, Obama announced he would not be appearing on âÄúSaturday Night Live,âÄù his only scheduled network appearance last weekend. Tina Fey and Amy PoehlerâÄôs non-partisan political performance was probably the most honest account of the difficult dilemmas facing the democratic ticket âÄîdebunking the Barracuda and winning the women. PoehlerâÄôs Hillary Clinton invited the media to âÄúgrow a pair,âÄù and said it is not sexy to question a female candidate on her credentials. Meanwhile, Democrats continued to scratch their heads, formulating a new plan to reach out to women. At the end of the week, Obama decided it was time for plan B: Bill Clinton. If there is one man in the political world that knows how to handle a tough lady, itâÄôs definitely Bill. The man has handled one of the toughest women in politics for 33 years, bless his soul. Even after the most dramatic scandal in marriage history, he has managed to tame the beast. But is Hillary really an asset to the Obama Campaign? Voters might disagree with PalinâÄôs principles and extreme views, but itâÄôs hard to ignore HillaryâÄôs fetid feistiness. WhatâÄôs working for McCain? Distraction. Any publicity is good publicity for the Republicans, and Palin remains appealing. The real test will come Oct. 2 at the vice presidential debate in St. Louis, Mo. Will two weeks of presidential training translate into knowledge, experience and credentials? Doubtful. Will slippy-mouthed Sen. Joe Biden blunder into a sexist slip-up? Probably. Will âÄúSNLâÄù slap the funny pants off the biggest battle of the sexes? Definitely. Ashley Goetz welcomes comments at [email protected]