The Democrats are in a very serious strategic bind: if they attack Palin, they anger women voters. If they don't attack her, they have to stand by helplessly and watch as her political star continues to rise. This is why the Palin pick will, in the end, prove to have been a political master stroke.
The Obama campaign strategy had been premised on completely different political fault lines. They had solved their woman problem when Obama defeated Hillary in the primary. But defeating Hillary was a manageable problem. Many women did not identify with Hillary. There was simply little danger that a significant percentage of women would ever see her--Washington insider that she was, as like them. That, and Hillary was a good girl and fell in line with the Obama campaign at their convention.
Besides, the Republicans wouldn't nominate a woman anyway. They thought.
Then came the Palin nomination. Now the Democrats are in a fix. The political realities have utterly changed, and the campaign strategy that they spent the past year formulating is completely obsolete. Still they appear loathe to discard it. If they don't, they're cooked.
The political world is totally different than it was just two weeks ago. There are things you could have said then, that you simply can't say now. Despite this, however, they just keep saying them. I have already said that I think Obama's "lipstick on a pig" remark was not an intentional slam on Palin, but a gaffe--but it's looking now like it could be a very costly one. Just Palin's appeal to women could put the Republicans over the top in the fall, but it is mistakes like this that could ensure it.
If you combine Palin's appeal to women with the anger at Obama's campaign that is already palpable because of what are perceived as unfair attacks on her, there is already enough momentum to propel the Republicans into the White House once again.
Take a look at this:
I'm tellin' ya folks, this could do the Democrats in. You can talk all you want about Palin's lack of experience and qualifications, and for all I know that may be right. That still remains to be seen. But all of that will be irrelevant if, because of politically inept Democratic attack rhetoric against this woman, the tick off half the electorate.
If it keeps going the way it's going, she won't have to win her debate with Biden. There will be millions of women rooting for her. If she wins, they cheer Palin; if she loses, they boo Biden. If there is one person in this campaign I would hate to be right now, it's Biden. He is in a no-win situation.
I literally don't know how the Democrats escape from this pincher movement the Republicans have performed.
So here's the question: Assuming I'm right (and my analysis isn't too much different from that of Willie Brown, Mayor of San Francisco), what should the Democrats do? If you were advising the campaign, how would you tell them to proceed from here?