|Extending The Metaphor
The first thing to note is that Nate doesn't say anything about our "fourth-line hockey agitator". It's perfectly true that our top scorers shouldn't be distracted. But why the hell shouldn't we disrupt their game, rather than worrying about them disrupting ours?
And that, of course, entails getting clear about what their game is. And if you think it's just winning this election, then I've got a bridge to sell you, and it only costs two tickets to the Stanley Cup finals.
You see, Sean is absolutely right--Sarah Palin is a "fourth-line hockey agitator"... today. But movement conservatives are all about movement building, and John McCain was not their idea of anything like that. Palin, OTOH, is one of them, not just a movement conservative, but a cadre, a foot-soldier promoted to field general. She is their future, incarnate. And if we don't take her down now, when all her dirty laundry hasn't been tossed into the incinerator yet, we will never have as good a shot as we do right now.
In a sense, Sean himself must realize this. He ends his piece like this:
Finally - is the analogy complete? In the end a great hockey agitator who rouses both sides emotionally (and successfully gets the other team to lose focus) still needs the home team scoring talent to come through. Successful agitator Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings had the clutch Steve Yzerman for a lot of years. That worked. Detroit won Cups. They had parades.
Successful agitator Tyson Nash, when he was on my Blues, was stuck with the antithesis of playoff clutch, the easily thrown-off-his-game Keith Tkachuk. That didn't work. No Cup. Even if Palin is successful in her task of agitation and distraction, which one is John McCain?
The answer is obvious: by himself, John McCain can't score. So if the metaphor, as Sean presents, is wholly accurate, then it doesn't really matter if Biden--or Obama--loses his cool. In the end, McCain won't be able to take advantage. Ah, but there's the rub. It's not really up to McCain. Palin may be starting out as a "fourth-line hockey agitator", but she's clearly aiming for bigger things, already overshadowing the "scoring talent", and clearly positioned to be a future presidential nominee.
Game Plan: Richard Nixon In A Dress
So what do I suggest? Three things:
(1) What Biden has done so far is good, but it needs to evolve. He needs to advance to mocking her--not least for her lack of honesty. He can't do that alone, however. He needs us to build off of. This leads to my next point.
(2) What's true for Obama and Biden does not hold for the rest of us. We need to focus on disrupting their game. Not all of us, mind you. Just the ones who are comfortable and able in doing so. But we need to be supported--at the very least by not being foolishly criticized. We can build up the honest narrative about who Sarah Palin really is: "Richard Nixon in a dress." That's who she is, and we need to make the case--and make it rock solid.
Once we do so, then Biden can say, "Some people call her 'Richard Nixon in a dress.' I wouldn't go that far, but I do know that she has a problem with telling the truth...." and then he can go right down the list of things we've promoted.
(3) Disrupting the cleansing of Sarah Palin now, and making the GOP defend her without fully knowing her does not mean abandoning running on the issues. People already know and support us on the issues. What they need to see is that we can fight. So we need to knock her down, hard, and once we've shown we can do that, then talking about issues will be much more effective than it otherwise would be.
Note: Of course, Palin will try to come back. Don't think for a moment that one knock-down will stop her. See Nixon's career if you have any doubts about that. But if we hit her hard enough and smart enough right now, she will never be the same caliber of threat that she otherwise would be. It's an investment in the future well worth making now. An investment that will pay off this November, and for many more Novembers to come.