Jen, Obama’s remark — “put a lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig” — is being treated by the McCain campaign as an attack on Sarah Palin. I’m not sure that’s what’s going on here. Syntactically, the remark is not about Palin; it’s about John McCain. She’s the lipstick. He’s the pig.
Rhetorically, Barack Obama likened his rival to a pig.
There’s a whiff of something very dangerous to Obama here. What this sounds like is nothing so much as Michael Dukakis, in 1988, likening George H.W. Bush to a rotting fish (“a fish rots first from the head,” he said). As if to demonstrate that the Dukakis example was floating through his brain at exactly the same moment, Obama then made a direct allusion to it: “You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change,’ it’s still gonna stink after eight years.”
Dukakis lost by eight points, after blowing a substantial convention lead.