With the Race Lost, Now is the Time for the Real Negative Campaigning

By | 2008/11/06

The blame game seems to be the rage in Republican circles. Various news items are now being published about “off the record” information… sorry, but “off the record” doesn’t mean “only publish when stale”, it means not for publication at all.

I made no excuses for criticizing Sarah Palin in her role as Republican candidate for vice president. I thought she was anti-intellectual with anti-science leanings. But it seems that Palin’s gaffes, petulance, and ignorance are being blamed for the overall failure of the McCain campaign, and to that end we’re hearing campaign staffers as sources for things that retrospectively pile on Palin. From the Huffington Post, we learn that:

However, perhaps one of the most astounding and previously unknown tidbits about Sarah Palin has to do with her already dubious grasp of geography. According to Fox News Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron, there was great concern within the McCain campaign that Palin lacked “a degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate, a vice president, a heartbeat away from the presidency,” in part because she didn’t know which countries were in NAFTA, and she “didn’t understand that Africa was a continent, rather than a series, a country just in itself.”

Palin was apparently a nightmare for her campaign staff to deal with. She refused preparation help for her interview with Katie Couric and then blamed her staff, specifically Nicole Wallace, when the interview was panned as a disaster. After the Couric interview, Fox News reported, Palin turned nasty with her staff and began to accuse them of mishandling her. Palin would view press clippings of herself in the morning and throw “tantrums” over the negative coverage. There were times when she would be so nasty and angry that her staff was reduced to tears.

OK, if someone is going to publicize a failing of a candidate for high office that is highly relevant to assessing their worthiness to enter a post that requires understanding foreign policy, it seems to me that the appropriate time to do so would be before the election. Having withheld the information this long, and given that the public isn’t now threatened with having a geographical ignoramus as a vice president, it just seems churlish to make an issue of it. What it makes it look like is that there’s a scapegoating campaign going on, with Sarah Palin as the scapegoat. She hasn’t made herself sympathetic, but that isn’t the issue. I’ve seen comments to the effect that Palin’s political aspirations need to be crushed entirely. I assume that burning those hopes to ashes and scattering at midnight are just unstated parts of the plan. Maybe terminating her political career is a worthy goal. But what I’m wondering is what, exactly, is this bit of spite distracting us from? I wouldn’t expect that McCain will be looking for a rematch in 2012. So whose political prospects are advanced on the Republican side by making sure that Sarah Palin’s credibility is turned into chutney in the post-election period? I’m assuming that this is an intra-party thing, since her Democratic opponents likely would have sought to make the revelations clear pre-election.

Now, that second quoted paragraph above… I think everyone knew already that John McCain has a long reputation for having a short fuse and a hot temper, and the notion that he’d have gone through the stresses of the past year without having reduced some people on his staff to tears seems to strain credulity. So why does finding out that his VP pick has something of a similar behavioral bent merit a lot of notice? Did anybody serve as campaign ethologist to tally the numbers of staffers made to cry by each of the people on the ticket, and where can we review that data? Again, I just wonder what the Palin gossip accomplishes. It seems to go counter to the claims that Palin has a bright future in the Republican Party.

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5 thoughts on “With the Race Lost, Now is the Time for the Real Negative Campaigning

  1. Hurd

    Good observations. I had a thought this AM about the shopping spree reports. It would seem that the actual trips to the stores was done by aids. Consequently, they would have likely picked up several sizes, shades and variations of most items. Then they would return anything Palin didn’t like.

    She still could have run up 150+ thousands of dollars in bills, but the possibility existed that this wasn’t the case. What makes me think that I am wrong, and she really did go nuts shopping, is that they never offered any explanation along these lines.

  2. Amadán

    To put it a bit more bluntly, if Palin is such a numbskull, and this fact was evident to McCain staffers during the campaign, how does it put the ‘country first’* to keep her on the ticket for the seconf highest office in the land? Tattling like this is like sawing off the branch while you’re sitting on the wrong end of it.

    * and Western second. We got both kinds of music!

  3. Rich

    The introduction of Palin was the end of the McCain campaign for me. I felt like a cynical act of desperation, a grab for the female ‘Hillary’ vote.

  4. Les Lane

    Economic conservatives are obviously unhappy with social conservatives (hardly surprising).

  5. Erasmus, FCD

    it is rather amusing to hear Fox news being boycotted for airing the Palin criticisms. Some folks you just can’t please. i am pleased, it appears that we have much to point and laugh about for the next 4 years.

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