I second those last two sentences.
In his stirring speech last week, Obama urged America not to "make a big election about small things". Yet here we are, discussing not Sarah Palin's record or programme but Jesus, guns, and as one feminist blogger put it yesterday, "the uterine activity of her family". This is a setback for women, especially in a year that seemed to promise a breakthrough, but it is also a setback for America itself.
Obama made his name four years ago with a speech that called for an end to the civil war of red against blue. In 2008, he urged a different kind of election, one that would match the gravity of the hour. But the naming of Sarah Palin, and the reaction it has provoked, has dashed that hope. Americans are, once again, fighting over the questions that politics can never really settle - faith, sexuality - and pushing aside the ones that it can. And which it must.
03 September 2008
From Jonathan Freedland, writing in The Guardian: