Palin Induced Buyer’s Remorse

Roger Simon for Politico succinctly encapsulates the state of the McCain campaign as it exists today.  Despite the reassurances that McCain guarantees victory come November 4th, they are already planning on losing, and they are planning to use Sarah Palin as the sacrificial anode when that loss comes about.

When Palin’s selection was first announced, one of the strangest things happened in the political blogosphere; both the left and the right were absolutely jubilant.  The right was jubilant because they had a conservative rockstar on the ticket, a pitbull in lipstick that would pump up the base and seduce the hearts and minds of undecideds.  The left was jubilant because what we saw in Palin was a train wreck waiting to happen; a candidate that was already under investigation for ethics violations and had zero experience in both national politics and national policy.

When Palin delivered her official acceptance address at the Republican National Convention a few days later, it would seem for a time that the right’s enthusiasm was more justified than the left’s.  Palin was charismatic and confident, but she also displayed great striking instincts and an ability to land bruising blows.

And then things fell apart.  There was the Charlie Gibson interview which was bad enough but in truth only served as the precursor to the cataclysmic Katie Couric interview.  Drawn out over days was what must have seemed to the McCain campaign like pure torture as the vice presidential candidate stumbled through whole paragraphs of non-sequiturs and nonsensical answers.  We would come to find that Palin’s charisma was being overshadowed by her negativity which played well with the base, but seemed to turn just about everyone off.

Indeed, the Palin pick wasn’t just a bad decision at the point of the pick, but was instead a series of bad moves and missteps that turned an injection of lifeblood into an already struggling campaign into arsenic.

And thus we find ourselves in the final days of the presidential election.  Far from being a savior, Palin has become a liability as polls continue to show her negatives rising, her favorables plummeting, and the candidate herself becoming an all too familiar punchline of night time talk shows and variety shows everywhere.

If only that were the worst of the McCain campaign’s Palin related troubles.  Now what has seeped out from the internal mechanics of the campaign is that there are factions developing within the campaign swirling around a scapegoat feud.  McCain advisors who hope to work in politics again are desperately searching for an excuse that will alleviate them of the responsibility of a major political loss, while Palin, who sees herself taking over the party in time for the 2012 presidential elections, is trying to make it look like she truly is a diamond that has been buried in the rough by McCain and his handlers.

This is not the narrative that McCain wants driving coverage come election day and not just because it’s general bad news.  Yes, the more energy spent talking about the inner turmoil of the McCain campaign sucks away valuable media time that would be more helpful to McCain, but the overarching message that this sends out to voters is about as damning as any message can be.  For all the scapegoating going on, and you can bet if some of it has leaked to the press there’s an awful lot more of it that we don’t see, this all goes back to a decision made in the waning days of August; John McCain’s first presidential level decision.

In his first opportunity as a candidate to show the nation that McCain can effectively lead this country, McCain chose what has ultimately become a poison pill.  We know he made this choice because he did not vet her properly, and we know that he has not been able to repair the damage that his choice has made.

As president, it would be McCain’s job to make decisions of this level and higher on a frequent basis, but the template he gives us on how he would approach these decisions is disturbing.  If he approaches all decisions like his pick for Palin, and we’ve had no evidence to the contrary given the erratic nature of his campaign, we can assume that McCain doesn’t spend a lot of time deliberating, we can assume he always goes for the big gamble, for the high risk high pay off.  We have learned that when McCain makes a bad choice, which we are all destined to do from time to time, he seems incapable of recovering.

McCain throws his fate to luck, and unfortunately for him, and for us should he manage to become our president, his luck doesn’t seem to be very good.

(edited by DrGail)

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