The attempt to demolish Sarah Palin has backfired. As everyone knows, every quantum of fury directed against her seemed to push her ticket higher in the polls. Here's another indicator you may not have noticed: her eyeglass frames (Kawasaki 704) flew off the shelves long ago. Retailers, and the manufacturer itself, are all sold out, with a long waiting list. (I know this because Deborah tried to buy a pair recently. She'd look great in them, too.) The leftosphere's loathing of her only seems to make other people like her more.
What have we learned from this? For rhetorical purposes, I'll put this as Advice to Democrats, though I'm not silly enough to think that they will take it, either from me or from anybody else, including non-suicidal Democrats.
Fundamentally, by trying to show that Palin is the wrong sort of person, you, the Dems, turned the debate into a culture war about values. This is a battle you are doomed to lose.
1. Most obviously, Avoid starting any new culture wars. If you think people who shoot moose are icky because that's just so-o-o-o-o mean, please keep this information under your hat. For better or worse, most Americans think a woman who shoots moose is pretty cool. Given a chance, they would be out there shooting moose themselves. So avoid that whole nest of issues and non-issues, please.
2. Stop playing Gotcha! No one cares which one of Bush's awful ideas is so terrible that it is actually called The Bush Doctrine. [If you are indeed halfway interested, here is an article by Charles Krauthammer, the guy who coined the term, and he says that Gibson got it wrong too. Personally, I would have guessed that it was the idea that we have a right to coercively spread democracy around the world on the grounds that freedom can't survive unless it is nearly universal. Krauthammer, if I'm reading him right, says this is closer to being correct than Gibson's version is.] More important, playing Gotcha! makes you look mean. It looks mean because it is mean: only mean people enjoy that sort of petty foolishness. The voters are not going to give you power over nearly every aspect of their lives (which is what elections are really about nowadays, unfortunately) if they think that you and your people are petty and mean. If you really are a mean person, you should hide your nasty little soul from public view until after the election, then spring it on us.
3. Stop basing your case on how stupid your opponent is. For one thing, before you even think of using this strategy, you'd better make damn sure that you are smart yourself. Many Dems who play the He's So Stupid game fall pathetically short of meeting this simple and obvious requirement. The sort of stupidity that doesn't know its own limitations is the only really dangerous kind. Further, I've spent my whole life surrounded by incredibly smart people and I can tell you this by experience: Believe it or not, being smart is not that important. G. W. Bush is not an awful president because he is stupid. True, he is not exactly brilliant, but I believe that is just a coincidence.* He has been awful, not from stupidity, but because he is a "moderate": ie., he lacks an ideological or philosophical compass. As such, he fell under the influence of people with the wrong sort of ideology, a pack of free-spending ex-leftist world-savers who have brought us to the brink of ruin. Nature abhors any vacuum, including the brain of a "moderate." Being smart would not have saved him.
4. Focus sharply on the issues. All the talk about the Bush Doctrine distracted attention from what was really disturbing in that interview: soon after it began, she revealed that she would be willing to go to war with Russia over Georgia. That is, her views on foreign policy are at least as insane as those of Mad McCain. The eyes of the voters should be glued to this terrifying fact, not the BS issue of knowing what the Bush Doctrine is.
It is one of the tragedies of our times that, during the run-up to this war, the only thing standing between us and this war was -- the Democrats. With defenders like that, you are pretty much defenseless. Here, years into the war, their party and their candidate haven't got the guts to declare they will end it at the earliest opportunity -- and bring the troops home, instead of shipping them off to some other Godforsaken Hell-hole.
* On the other hand, I just noticed a blurb on the internet that says that Bush's IQ is 125, which puts him in the top 7 % or so of the population. This actually reinforces my main point of the folly of the He's So Stupid strategy, especially when used by people who are not exactly geniuses themselves.
Added Later: I was going to add that displays of PDS (Palin Derangement Syndrome) had probably bottomed out with Palin's email being hacked into and published on the web, and then I heard of Sandra Bernhard's truly revolting gang-rape comment. I think it is a very interesting question: Why don't leftists seem to realize how really, seriously ugly this looks to people who don't suffer from PDS? This is not a rhetorical question: I really don't know the answer.