I'm always at a bit of a loss to know how to react when a candidate I'm supporting does exactly what I think he should do. On the one hand, hey! Great! I think it's a good idea!
On the other hand, after all, it's me! I'm an idiot! What does it say if Obama's strategists have the same ideas I do?
In any case, I love this ad from the Obama camp, sort of reacting-by-way-of-not-reacting to the Palin pick.
I think if I had to sum up the proper approach to Palin for the Obama campaign (and particularly for Biden) it would be summed up in these few words:
Pretend She Isn't There
This ad does a good job with that. In the end, Palin's main upside for McCain is that she makes a somewhat tricky attack target. If McCain were winning the race, and the Dems were hungry for weak points to attack, that would be a problem. But that's not the situation we're in. In strategic thinking, one of the most fundamental axioms that people violate again and again (often to their great detriment) is "When the plan is working, stick to the plan." That applies here.
The thing to keep in mind, from a strategic point of view, is that aside from all the specific problems with Palin the VP candidate, this is a fundamentally weak pick. It's not, as some have analogized, a hail mary pass. John McCain is not down five with ten seconds left. It's more like a well-known type of mistake in poker where, early in a big, long tournament, a beginner will get dealt a strong hand and crazily push all his chips into the middle. The downside of getting called down by an even stronger hand is big, but that's not the real problem (risk is part of poker, after all) - the real problem is, even if the move works, you're really not in THAT great of shape.
McCain is gambling at the wrong time, in the wrong way, on the wrong cards. The best move for the Obama camp is to just... let him.