Well, it looks like the McCain campaign is listening to the people. According to Bill Kristol, top McCain aides Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt are personally taking control of what I am calling "Operation Liberation". Apparently, Sen. McCain is as displeased with the rest of us with the way Sarah is being handled by the Bush staffers he hired to do the job. I've also read that Todd and an Alaskan Palin staffer (a group that is sorely underrepresented on the current Palin staff), will be on hand for Sarah's debate prep retreat in Sedona.
If today was any indication, it appears that the liberation is already underway. I personally am watching two indicators from Palin: one-liners and (believe it or not) wardrobe choices. Here's why I think both are relevant:
On the one-liners: Palin is best when speaking off-the-cuff. She's "in the zone" when she's allowed to joke and make lots of flippant remarks. If her speech at today's rally was any indication, it looks like they've already fixed that problem to some degree.Yes, it was still a speech, but it was definitely more of a vintage Palin speech than we've been seeing.
On the wardrobe: Like it or not, the way female politicians dress will always be analyzed more than the threads of their male counterparts. Both Sarah and the McCain campaign have been VERY cognizant of this fact. For Sarah's part, she practically trademarked her hairdo, glasses, and red powersuits in Alaska (and the first two nationally...I'll come back to the third). It was definitely a great look, but it was also done relatively cheaply (personal frugality is also a Palin trademak). On the other hand, the campaign people have put her through something of a makeover, encouraging her to buy expensive designer clothes (usually leather jackets of the sort often worn of Cindy McCain). I have nothing against these as occasional campaign expenses (especially for the convention), but they undermine the down-to-earth Palin persona and frankly they are just not Sarah. While I am actually a big fan of Cindy McCain's fashion sense, I think I'm going to hurl if that look continues to be applied to Sarah.
Why does this even matter? Because my guess is that the clothes will likely be the first thing to go if Sarah is to reinvent herself on her own terms (a reverse-makeover, if you will). Not that Sarah has to start shopping at Wal-Mart, but I think that "Revenge of the Red Powersuit" (also apparently on display today) is a quick and easy way signaling the public that Sarah is back in the driver's seat. It it really relevant, no; but symbolism is a big part of getting your message across.
Now, to those in the comments section who have said that my analyses lately have not contained any policy recommendations: you are absolutely correct. Obviously, there are things that Sarah has to do and say regarding policy in order for the public to be truly comfortable with her, and they are being hashed out on every cable news channel. That said, those of us who have watched Sarah for over a year know, down to the finest detail, all of the things she did that made her message more powerful. Hence, with Sarah receiving some criticism for looking uncomfortable in her own skin, I think it is totally prudent to include such "superfluous" details in strategy discussions. Whether we like it or not, these little details are the sort of things that people subconsciously pay attention to, and they simply cannot be ignored.