I haven't seen better analysis of the current state of the presidential campaign than this by Democrat Kirsten Powers:
YESTERDAY'S Gallup poll had John McCain ahead of Barack Obama by an astonishing 10 points among likely voters. A Washington Post poll had that lead at only two points, but clearly showed a McCain surge - especially among women. This wasn't what Democrats were expecting when they left Denver - yet they have nobody to blame but themselves.
Obama's toughest challenge has always been to connect with working-class swing voters. So attacking the poster child for small-town values, Sarah Palin, was a bad strategy.
No, Obama didn't engage in the mass sneering at Palin - but he did fall into the trap of disrespecting her. When McCain chose her, the Obama campaign's first response was to ridicule the size of her town. Then the candidate himself began referring to her as a "former mayor" when she is in fact a sitting governor.
When she retaliated (justifiably) by mocking his stint as a organizer, the Obama camp was clearly rattled. Obama himself actually began arguing about the importance of community organizing. His supporters amplified this cry - claiming Palin's attack was a racist slur and passing around e-mails titled "Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilate was a governor."
Meanwhile, the rest of the country was probably wondering what being a community organizer has to do with being president.
Lured by the McCain camp, Obama supporters engaged in an argument about who had more overall experience - the top of the Democratic ticket or the bottom of the GOP ticket. This diminished Obama.
Meanwhile, the media lit up in all their cultural-elite splendor.
Alaska? they sneered. It has the population of Las Vegas! Funny how the coastal elite only sneers at red states with small populations. Howard Dean hailed from a blue state with almost the same population as Alaska and was a national phenomenon and front-runner for the presidency. Joe Biden's Delaware has a similarly small population - but no mocking was forthcoming there.
Evangelicals will never vote for a woman who works! they declared. This from people who've likely never met an evangelical in their lives. They could barely contain themselves when they found out Gov. Palin's daughter was pregnant, so sure were they that evangelicals would hang her from the highest tree. When evangelical leaders expressed support, there was a palpable disappointment that Palin or her daughter wasn't branded with a scarlet letter.
They claimed that the Palin announcement was some desperate pick that came out of nowhere. Had they been doing their jobs, or even perusing The Weekly Standard or right-wing blogs, they'd have known that she was on the list.
Since they didn't know anything about her, they started making things up. Anything that fit the caricature of a right-wing hypocrite was thrown up with, seemingly, no fact-checking.
They said she opposes contraception, when she said in a campaign debate that she is pro-contraception. They said she cut funding for pregnant teens, when she provided a massive funding hike.
They accused her of cutting funding for mentally disabled children, when she raised it 175 percent over the former administration. She was said to have been a member of the wacky Alaska Independence Party; The New York Times had to run a retraction.
Like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Palin has been deemed one of the GOP's rising stars. Since it's national reporters job to cover American politics, their ignorance of about her is distressing.
Most Americans think that the media are cheerleading for Obama, so they'll punish him for the reporters' and editors' sins.
So now he is weighted down with more baggage as he works to convince an important voting bloc that he and his party don't hold them in contempt.
The clock is ticking.