This stellar Dkos diary on hockey and political strategy jumps off of this post at 538 by a guy named Quinn. The Dkos diary actually does a better job of explicating the issue but its basically this: that Palin's appeal is as an instigator to hysteria and her role is to make the Dems take their eye off the ball and start hand waving.
Hockey's a great way to look at politics. It has both finesse and brutality, and it take a bit of both to win.
But there's a fundamental, unwritten rule to that brutality--the person who hits back gets the penalty. A smart team takes its licks, focuses on the puck, and understands that sooner or later the other team will get caught in its mistakes.
Sure, the Republicans are having a golden run of not getting caught. But that is starting to turn. And, as in hockey, that turn can be helped along. But, as in hockey--hitting back draws unwanted attention.
This is the case with the VP pick.
Initiators win, reactors lose. Expect adversity, because it's built in. The fourth-line, no-scoring-talent, pest agitators (or as we now call them, "energy guys") have a specific job. Skate in, take a cheap shot, make it after the whistle. Make it against the rules. Stir something up. Put a wet glove in the other guy's face and rub it. Get the outrage flowing. Get the opponent not thinking about the game, get them thinking about your shenanigans. And what happens? The "victimized" team loses its composure, hitting back. The guy who hits second is always the guy who goes to the penalty box.
The diarist points towards Biden's one great line in his vid that people are praising, and gives him a pass on the other stuff that is pissing Molly Ivors et al off. I'm on the fence. I thought parts of Biden's speech were excellent, but I didn't see the TV stuff and I know Biden can lose his main point when he gets garrulous. The main point is well taken though, its ok to praise McCain if your next act is to bury him. The phrase "John McCain is an honorable man" should always be said, and always be followed with "or he was that's why the american people are so dissapointed that he has chosen to run for the job of president with the most rapacious, oil soaked, corrupt, hysterical, angry, anti-science, pro-lobbyist, fake reformers since Bush and Cheney." Having said that, the diarist is right that on the whole the dems need to pay attention to their own fundamentals.