<img src="http://media.newsbusters.org/media/2007-04-29Rich.jpg" align="right" width="147" height="200" />A beautiful woman, at once a scheming, ambitious right-wing ideologue, and the powerful, evil forces behind her, plot to seize the presidency from the man—foolish enough to have made her his running-mate—who may be concealing just how seriously sick he is, both physically and mentally!<br /><br />As the stuff of straight-to-video filmmaking, not bad, perhaps. But as the theory of an ostensibly serious column in America's newspaper of record? And yet, that is the paranoid picture Frank Rich paints today in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/opinion/05rich.html?ref=opinion">Pitbull Palin Mauls McCain</a>.<br /><br /><b>Annotated excerpts:</b><br /><blockquote>[T]he 2008 election is now an Obama-Palin race . . . and the only person who doesn’t seem to know it is Mr. Past, poor old John McCain.<br /></blockquote>Watch in horror, as the scheming woman plots behind the muddled McCain's back!<!--break--><br /><ul><li>[S]till-unanswered questions about McCain’s health. </li><li>[I]nformation too “unclear” to determine McCain’s cancer prognosis. </li><li>[H]ardly any information on McCain’s mental health.</li><li>McCain is looking increasingly shaky . . . McCain’s “dismaying temperament,” as George Will labeled it, only thickens the concerns. His kamikaze mission into Washington during the bailout crisis seemed crazed. His seething, hostile debate countenance.</li></ul>McCain looking increasingly shaky? I'd say the consensus was that in the debate he was impressively in control of his facts and his temperament. If he perhaps erred on the side of being too aggressive, it's hard to see that as a symptom of a man in decline, particularly in a man who's had a decades-long rep as someone unafraid to rub others the wrong way.<br /><blockquote>It’s against this backdrop that Palin’s public pronouncements, culminating with her debate performance, have been so striking. . . . [T]here’s a steady unnerving undertone to Palin’s utterances, a consistent message of hubristic self-confidence and hyper-ambition. She wants to be president, she thinks she can be president, she thinks she will be president. And perhaps soon. She often sounds like someone who sees herself as half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency. Or who is seen that way by her own camp, the hard-right G.O.P. base that never liked McCain anyway and views him as, at best, a White House place holder.<br /></blockquote>So the columnist is unnerved by the hockey mom, claiming to detect a lean and hungry look in Sarah. Scary!<br /><blockquote>This was first apparent when Palin extolled a “small town” vice president as a hero in her convention speech — and cited not one of the many Republican vice presidents who fit that bill but, bizarrely, Harry Truman, a Democrat who succeeded a president who died in office. A few weeks later came Charlie Gibson’s question about whether she thought she was “experienced enough” and “ready” when McCain invited her to join his ticket. Palin replied that she didn’t “hesitate” and didn’t “even blink.”<br /></blockquote>Please. Harry Truman is everybody's favorite to cite in these situations. A good Dem with a conservative streak, he's the perfect pick for Republicans trying to appeal to voters across party lines. To see in that evidence of an inchoate coup is nothing short of silly. As to Palin expressing to Charlie Gibson confidence in her abilities, can you imagine the MSM field day had she copped to the smallest of doubts?<br /><blockquote>So how can a desperate G.O.P. save itself? . . . [T]he debate reminded Republicans once again that it’s Palin, not McCain, who is their last hope for victory. You have to wonder how long it will be before they plead with him to think of his health, get out of the way and pull the ultimate stunt of flipping the ticket. Palin, we can be certain, wouldn’t even blink.<br /></blockquote>PDS reaches its apotheosis as Frank fantasizes about the Forces of Palin forcing McCain from the ticket. Richard Hofstadter would nod: this is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paranoid_Style_in_American_Politics">the paranoid style</a> in American politics writ large.