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The Performance of PoliticsObama's Victory and the Democratic Struggle for Power$
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Jeffrey C. Alexander

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199744466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199744466.001.0001

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Palin Effect

Palin Effect

(p.193) Chapter Eight Palin Effect
The Performance of Politics


Oxford University Press

At no point during the 2008 election campaign did the John McCain image generate much dramatic force. When Steven Schmidt assumed control over image making in early summer, even he could not liven up the image. Schmidt tried redressing the deficit of excitement by attacking the image on the other side. With the celebrity campaign running out of gas, Republicans needed to generate performative power from their own side. When McCain named Sarah Palin his choice for vice president, she officially assumed the junior partner position. Symbolically, however, the reverse was the case. The dimly lit McCain figure was plugged into the high-wattage image from Alaska. Palin had the dramatic power and the prospective political glory. Palin's paint job sparkled, and she was clearly built for power and speed. This new Republican model projected the right image, and she had many of the special features the public desired.

Keywords:   election campaign, John McCain, Steven Schmidt, celebrity, Republicans, power, Sarah Palin, vice president

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