It turns out that only two days after Ambinder put forth his prediction, he proactively made it come true.
Despite the inquisitive title of his September 17 post ("Will the White House Play the Palin Card?"), Ambinder clearly believes that going after Sarah Palin should be part of the White House's and Democrats' strategy during the next seven weeks.
It's enough to make you wonder if he has already written his CBS election post-mortems. Behold Ambinder's cluelessness:
... when Tea Partiers are in "elect someone like Christine O'Donnell mode," Democrats sense an opportunity. Simply put, the crazier the Tea Party seems, the more Democrats can link the Republican agenda to its source of energy, which in turn fires up rank-and-file Democrats.
There is, in fact ... someone whose very name provokes disgust among Democrats, someone whose name identification is 100 percent and whose ubiquity is extremely useful.
That person is Sarah Palin. All that's required is for the President to utter her name a couple of times. The Fox-Rush-Redstate nexus would explode. Palin would bask in the attention and respond. And respond. And respond.
... Elevate Sarah Palin? How much higher can she go? Everyone knows her. Some of Obama's advisers have argued in the past that the attention paid to Palin by Americans in the last stages of the 2008 campaign is one reason why Obama was able to win so cleanly.
Palin and the Tea Party movement are not the same thing. The movement, evolving out of movement conservatism, is principally about government and the economy. Palin revels in the culture wars. But when that part of the Tea Party that does care about social issues becomes the story, linking the two in the public's mind is easier.
Anyone who thinks that Palin hurt John McCain's campaign wasn't watching the same election as everyone else.
McCain was suffering from intense conservative disinterest until he picked Palin. When he did, she energized the sensible, conservative base of the party as no one ever has. The fact that McCain's people then seemingly did all they could to water her down in the ensuing weeks is primarily McCain's fault, not hers. Despite that, residual affection for Palin is what prevented McCain's 7-point loss from going into double digits, and, for better or worse, arguably salvaged his ability to continue on as a U.S. Senator.
Despite well over a year of exposure to it, Ambinder betrays a total misunderstanding of the Tea Party movement. Fiscal issues are currently very important, but if he thinks there's a big divide within the movement on social issues, he's got another thing coming. The overriding issue is, to steal from Mark Levin, liberty versus tyranny. There is probably no better example of how all of the supposedly divide-creating issues (fiscal, social, constitutional) tie together under the liberty vs. tyranny banner than Palin's completely accurate, totally courageous assertion that statist health care will inexorably lead to "death panels" -- and that they are designed into legislation this Congress has already passed and this President has already signed.
So let me get this straight: During the next seven weeks, Marc Ambinder will be CBS's "Chief Political Consultant" on Campaign 2010. He's part of a team that will, in the network's own words, provide "reports and political analysis (that) will be prominently featured across all CBS News broadcasts and platforms on the run-up to election night 2010 on Nov. 2."
At the same time, Ambinder has not only clearly chosen sides, but is actively providing "messaging" advice to which he hopes Team Obama and the Democrats pay heed. Assuming he continues to do this, Ambinder's contributions to CBS's "reports and political analysis" will then necessarily involve evaluating first, whether the home team followed his advice, and second, whether following or not following his advice was successful.
Of course, you'll never hear Ambinder tell his audience that "This is (or isnt') what I suggested." No-no-no. CBS will present its "Chief Political Consultant" as an impartial, disinterested observer.
What horse manure. And they wonder why their ratings continue to drop.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.