Monday, November 10, 2008


Palin Pile-on

Never thought I would say this, but Sarah Palin has a point. The attacks she's getting from erstwhile members of the McCain campaign are unprofessional -- and the work of "jerks." Look, as said early on, I wasn't a fan of this pick: Policywise, I thought she undermined McCain's strongest argument -- experience, particularly in national security. What she brought to the ticket -- executive experience, fluency with energy matters, solid social conservative credentials and, uh, a not-so-hidden "a-gender"-- didn't offset what was, the thing the average voter thought of when they thought of John McCain.

In addition, of course, I thought the baggage she brought along with her with respect to her daughter's pregnancy and the seeming validation of that fact by the Republican Party also undermined a key part of the GOP message.

That all said, the after-the-fact piling on and leaking from within the campaign is, in my view, both unprecedented and most unseemly. As I recall, there was a little bit of irritation that leaked out between Kerry and Edwards after '04, and perhaps some between Gore and Lieberman (albeit after a 30-day recount). But what's coming out of the McCain side is going well beyond that.

These people selected her: If she was unprepared and quote-stupid-unquote that is their (and the presidential candidate's fault) for elevating someone prematurely. Yes, she compounded the problem in several ways (dragging all the kids around after the nomination got to be a bit much), but the introduction of her to the press could have been done in a much more expedient and professional manner. The Gibson and Couric messes need not have happened if Palin's handlers had made her accessible to the press right away. The longer they waited, the easier it became for her to be tripped up in "gotcha" scenarios.

In other areas, the VP candidate is traditionally (in 20th century campaigns) the attack dog. Yes, she went over the top, but given the limitations of the presidential candidate was, Palin at least provided some meager red-meat excitement for a depressed base. And, from what I saw, as the campaign wound down, Palin ended up sounding much more light and confident. Her speech on energy in late October was actually pretty good (why didn't the campaign have her do that early -- like in September?).

But ultimately, I repeat: Those attacking Sarah Palin anonymously now are part of the group who vetted (or didn't) the candidate. If she is lacking in intelligence or political skills, they they are guilty of major malpractice by dumping a woefully inappropriate candidate on the country. They, in a sense, endangered the country by giving a 72 year-old man a running mate who was (by the standards these people are now cititing) embarrassingly unprepared to become president were something to happen to John McCain.

Now, it appears that there was an obvious split within the McCain camp over Palin -- which she may have encouraged.

However, that doesn't change the fact that the constant leaking aginst her is remarkably inappropriate. It's also stupid -- and likey to backfire: We haven't seen the last of Palin. If she is better than she appeared in the last two months, she will have the opportunity to prove it. One of two things will happen: If Sen. Ted Stevens wins his re-election (they may be counting votes for another two weeks), he will be expelled from the Senate because of his recent conviction. Palin can appoint herself to fill the seat and then run for the full term in a special election. A senator Palin would be able to bring herself up to speed on foreign policy issues rather quickly.

If Stevens' Democratic opponent Mark Bebich emerges victorious, Palin can stay as governor, run for re-election in 2010 -- and educate herself on a whole host of issues. Either way, she will be a much-in-demand guest for a sizeable segment of the Republican base. She will be invited to GOPAC next year and other conservative get-togethers.

This was likely to be the case after the election anyway: The VP candidate often leaps to the top of the field after a losing campaign. The anti-Palin McCain faction, could have let Palin disappear back Nome into semi-obscurity. Instead, by piling on her, they keep her in the news. The Today Show will have her on Tuesday morning. She is now empowered, either as a perceived victim of unfair attacks -- or as the person certain people in the GOP feels the need to "stop."

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