Sarah Palin

Reflecting on McCain's Pick of Palin

My guess is that the McCain campaign never really vetted Governor Sarah Palin. For so long she was so unlikely a pick that whatever vett they did was not as serious as some of the other vetts. So when McCain did not get his first pick, Joe Lieberman - because it just became clear that the Right would go crazy - he had to quickly pick someone else. Angry that he had not gotten his way, and much to the dismay of his own team, he picks Sarah Palin. In a way that is very McCain, the maverick Arizona Senator called an audible and went with the telegenic, conservative, youthful "reformer" who could, in his mind, appeal to those Clinton voters. Sometimes when you go with your gut and not your head, you make the right call. Sometimes you don't.

All day I've been thinking about the McCain communications team responsible for the Palin announcement event. The lead staffer looks at the Palin daughter, with her bump, and says "what the hell is this?" The daughter goes up on stage with a baby and a blanket, in retrospect hiding the bump from the national media and the public. The key word here being "hiding." Was this also hidden from the staff? And who really knew? I can only imagine what happened when the staff started to realize that Palin had not really been vetted, that her daugher's pregnancy had been hidden from the public, and that there could be much more to come. McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt sounded like a bumbling high schooler when he was asked about all this on TV today. They seemed totally unprepared for all this all day long, allowing this wild story to dominate the first day of their Convention. I can't really believe the McCain senior staff knew about the pregnant daughter - and how is that possible? What a incredible contrast with the sure-footed Obama Convention and rollout of Joe Biden.

I end the day believing that this whole episode captures the essence of McCain - a maverick, a rebel, a political risk taker, but also a man capable of being mercurial, whimsical, careless, petulant, irresponsible. Traits that might make an interesting Senator but ones that could make for a truly risky or even dangerous Presidency.

Palin means the focus will stay on McCain

Over the next few days while we learn more about Sarah Palin one thing is clear - the lack of seriousness of Palin's record means that the ideological focus will remain on McCain and his record: and that it reinforces the argument Democrats have been making that the Republicans have simply not been serious about governing these last few years. 

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