- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 14, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COMMENTARY:

It’s so much fun reading the newspapers these days. The Sarah surge continues to dominate all the political news, while the Palin-McCain - er, McCain-Palin - ticket is forging ahead in the polls.

But let’s be fair. Even though Sen. John McCain is now riding Gov. Sarah Palin’s skirt tails, he was the one who made the brilliant decision to put her on the ticket. And the louder the left screams, the better Sarah seems to do.

So much better that for the first time the Intrade pay-to-play prediction market - which long has had Barack Obama winning by 20 to 25 points in November - now shows a McCain lead. Unbelievable.

And look at all these headlines. The Washington Post has “Palin Energizing Women From All Walks of Life.” In particular, white women with children at home give Mrs. Palin a favorable rating of 80 percent.

Then there’s this lead story in the Wall Street Journal: “Palin lifts McCain’s support.” A WSJ-NBC poll now has the presidential race even, and it’s the Palin effect that explains the shift.

One in four Hillary Clinton voters now says the Palin pick makes them more likely to vote for Mr. McCain. And traditional Republican states like Georgia, Montana, North Carolina and Alaska - which Mr. Obama thought he would fight for - are now safely back in the McCain camp.

A Bloomberg news article is titled, “McCain poll surge, fund-raising give Democrats election jitters.” It talks about how Democrats now worry they’ll lose the election. Rep. Arthur Davis, the Alabama Democrat who was Mr. Obama’s Harvard Law classmate, says the GOP just had its best week in four years.

And Obama & Co. are completely flummoxed as to what to do about the Palin phenomenon. The normally unflappable Mr. Obama actually said, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” Whew. That one will add several points to the McCain-Palin column. “Holy Sow!” reads the New York Post headline, hammering home the mistake.

Even Camille Paglia, a strong Obama supporter, is waxing rhapsodic over Sarah Palin. Miss Paglia calls her “a new style of muscular American feminism”; a “brash ambassador from America’s pioneer past”; an “optimistic pragmatist like Ronald Reagan.” Following Mrs. Palin’s Republican Convention speech, I compared the governor to a Western pioneer version of Margaret Thatcher. I’m glad to see Miss Paglia pick up on that.

A story by Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, in the Wall Street Journal is titled, “Yes, Palin did stop that bridge.” The senator says Mrs. Palin may once have supported the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, but she then killed it.

And let’s not get into the flip-flop argument. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have flip-flopped this year. And anyway, who cares if you flip-flop if you land in the right place? Mr. DeMint notes that Mrs. Palin cut nearly 10 percent of Alaska’s budget. And he should have reminded folks that Mr. Obama voted for the pork-barrel farm bill - chock-full of earmarks and waste - and then voted again to overturn President Bush’s veto of the bill.

A USA Today headline says “Palin did not ban books in Wasilla as mayor.” After interviewing a bunch of local folks, the author simply could not confirm the charge made by left-wing bloggers.

In “The Hunt for Sarah October,” the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund writes about a 30-lawyer SWAT team of Obama Democrats descending on Alaska in search of dirt related to “Palin’s troopergate.” They found nothing that hasn’t already aired about Mrs. Palin’s alcoholic ex-brother-in-law who Tasered his stepson.

Over in the Journal’s Political Diary, Steve Moore says Republican House members back from vacation are actually talking about picking up seats in November, with a recent USA Today poll putting Republican members up four points on the question: Who do you support, the Republican or the Democrat for Congress in your district?

Even the financial pages are looking better. Oil is about to drop under $100 a barrel. Gold is plunging. And the greenback continues to rally in true King Dollar fashion. Is there a Sarah Palin effect here, too?

On the campaign trail, Mrs. Palin says, “We’re going to drill now to make this nation energy independent.” And she adds that she’s “ready to help John McCain bring tax relief to all Americans.” That’s the disciplined Sarah on message. She signaled this in St. Paul when she said the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick. Mr. Obama picked up on the dark side of that metaphor. But Mrs. Palin is really saying: Don’t tread on me. Don’t try to intimidate me. I am a strong, tough mom who is determined to succeed in politics. That’s just what she’s doing.

Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “Kudlow & Company” and is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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