Sarah Palin is out of her depth
Well, the knives are out. After pressing McCain to pick Sarah Palin as a running mate, campaign officials are now blaming Palin for losing the election. And there is a case to be made.
As Shepard Smith points out, the McCain spin that the Campaign was going just fine until a series of bankruptcies and stock market plunges is absolutely false. McCain did need to energize social conservatives within his party, and he did get an initial boost from Sarah Palin. But the campaign went off the rails after a series of disastrous interviews that exposed Palin's lack of knowledge, days before McCain lost any hope of winning by declaring that the fundamentals of the economy were sound.
McCain aides didn't stop with the information that they fed to Fox News, though. They've been telling everyone who will listen all sorts of embarrassing things about Palin:
* One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd.And of course, we're to believe that John McCain had no idea any of this was going on:
* Palin launched her attack on Obama's association with William Ayers, the former Weather Underground bomber, before the campaign had finalized a plan to raise the issue. McCain's advisers were working on a strategy that they hoped to unveil the following week, but McCain had not signed off on it, and top adviser Mark Salter was resisting.
* Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family--clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost.
McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign, and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.I don't buy it. I think McCain's aides are trying to salvage their own careers by blaming Palin for their incompetence, and the Republican establishment is trying to ensure that Palin can never get the nomination in the future because they think she's too radical to win in a general election (and they're probably right).
It's clear that she's terribly uninformed, but it's hard for me to believe that she refused to prepare for the interview with Katie Couric. Then again, how much preparation does a person need to answer simple questions like, "what's a Supreme Court decision with which you've disagreed" or "what newspapers and magazines do you read?" And there's no excuse for lying about trade missions to Russia and Russian overflights of Alaska.
And how is it that McCain's aides told her to buy 3 suits and hire a stylist, then didn't bat an eye when she went to the most expensive stores in the country and spent $150,000-$200,000, then made her stylist the highest-paid member of McCain's staff? If find it hard to believe that a woman who would greet someone wearing only a towel would insist on having clothes from Neiman Marcus a stylist who charges thousands of dollars a week.
That sounds more like the taste of the McCains, who regularly strut around in $15,000 outfits and $500 shoes.
Also, McCain's aides pretend that McCain wasn't in favor of the Ayers attacks until Palin forced his hand. But if that's true, McCain could have ended the attacks with one phone call. Instead, McCain brought up Ayers during the last debate, and accused Obama of associating with a group that he said is perpetrating "one of the greatest frauds of voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy in this country." And I absolutely don't buy the idea that the Ayers attacks would have been successful if McCain had more time to refine them.
So I think that Palin is being set up to take the fall for McCain's failure. Granted, she put herself in that position by being ignorant, mean-spirited, and dishonest, but she's not the only person on the ticket who has those traits. It wasn't Palin who said that the fundamentals of the economy were sound, it wasn't Palin who said that Iran was training al Qaeda operatives, it wasn't Palin who decided to cultivate an adversarial relationship with the press, and it wasn't Palin who attacked Obama for being inexperienced, then turned around and picked the newly-minted governor of Alaska as a running mate.
But McCain's aides know how the game is played, and they know that Palin can't effectively fight back. If she ever wants to run for president, and that still is a possibility for her, then she has to watch what she says, and who she says it to. That's why she's currently refusing interview requests instead of fighting back. She's been painted into a corner by some operatives who are just better at dirty politics than she is, and that's saying a lot.
One last thing: I have to wonder how McCain and his aides sleep at night, after having tried to make Palin the Vice President. The presidency is an incredibly stressful job, and there are some serious questions about McCain's health. And instead of telling reporters that Palin was unprepared, McCain and his aides did everything they could to cover for her. They changed the rules of the vice presidential debate so that she wouldn't be asked follow-up questions. They kept her from doing interviews for weeks while they tried to drill enough knowledge into her that she could bluff her way past Katie Couric and Charles Gibson. Why didn't anyone say to himself, "it's just not right to try to deceive the American people into believing that this woman would be competent to take over as president of the United States, if that becomes necessary"?
What happened to "Country First"?
Shepard Smith is really on a roll. Here he is delivering the smackdown to Ralph Nader:
(cross posted at appletree)