In the days and weeks leading up to the election, I warned that blame for a McCain loss on Tuesday would be thrown at the feet of Sarah Palin, of conservatives, and of the conservative movement as a whole. I warned that Palin’s churchgoing, her Second Amendment advocacy, her distance–geographically and otherwise–from the halls of Capitol Hill would be used to discredit her, would be used to explain the failure of independents to turn out in this election.
I expected this. It didn’t take a genius to expect this, either. Still … this seemed a little over-the-top:
If this is true–and I don’t think it is–and if they had prior knowledge, the media had a responsibility to include this in their campaign reports, just like the Los Angeles Times had a responsibility to release the video of Obama lavishing praise on former PLO operative and close personal friend Rashid Khalidi. After all, just as the Rashid Khalidi video goes to Obama’s judgment and ideology as a possible president, these so-called revelations go directly to Palin’s capacity as a possible vice president and potential president.
However, it smells more to me like the desperate act of embarassed, befuddled and defiant McCain staffers to somehow disperse their responsibility in their candidate’s loss, their role in the perpetration of a completely lackluster campaign. Palin, remember, added anywhere from two to 12 points to McCain’s numbers, depending upon where you look. The staffers know it, know that responsibility for the electoral vote blowout falls into their lap, and they’d rather shift blame than allow their candidate and their operation to take the blame for losing the election.
While, at first glance, the video and revelations within are shocking, after consideration this seems more and more to me like a manifestation of the internal conflict of the McCain campaign — which, in fact, is a microcosm of the internal conflict within the Republican Party. This is right versus center, plain and simple, and it reeks of dirty politics being played by people who lack the testicular fortitude to accept responsibility for Tuesday’s defeat.
A reader wrote to me, in fact, and said that Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume appeared on Laura Ingraham’s talk radio program this morning, where he maintained that, while he doesn’t doubt that these things were indeed said to Carl Cameron, he felt it was more indicative of “a fear among those in the McCain camp that they will be blamed for his defeat … and blamed for the failure of the McCain campaign.”
“They’re not going to sit still for it,” Hume told Ingraham, and the McCain staffers “will say whatever they need to say about her” in order to effectively pass the blame elsewhere.
I tend to agree with him. It’s not that I don’t believe Cameron, it’s not that I don’t believe that he was told these anecdotes, I just don’t buy that these things aren’t being relayed by McCain flunkies who simply just don’t want to be blamed for running an ineffective, disjointed and stagnant campaign. McCain has always been more comfortable criticizing conservatives–that’s his “Maverick” nature, after all–so why should we expect his staffers to act differently?
Palin, regardless of the attacks against her, has managed to prove herself to be a force in the Republican party. She single-handedly drew tens of thousands of people to John McCain’s events, a feat that could not have been done by a Tim Pawlenty or a Mitt Romney, despite their individual merits. She has a way with the people, has a way with articulating the conservative message. She’s a force for the right-hand side of the GOP, and the folks in the middle, the people who want to continue running candidates who appeal to the center and center-left, don’t seem to like it at all.
I wouldn’t be surprised, by the way, if Palin were to step down from her position as Alaskan governor and allow her Lieutenant Governor to appoint her to Ted Stevens’ senatorial position, should he prevail after all votes are counted. She is, after all, the highest-ranking and highest-profile republican in the state, and could argue that it is the natural progression in her political career.
The way things work in Alaska, apparently, she could serve until the next election cycle, where should would essentially have to run for re-election in order to serve out the remaining four years of Stevens’ term. While I don’t know if such a scenario is likely, Palin could frame it as an attempt to obtain more Capitol Hill experience–she already has executive experience–before considering a run in 2012 or 2016.
Regardless, she absolutely must address these charges, and must do so while she still has a national audience. If, after all, she had the will to “go rogue” during the last month or so of the campaign, she should do the same now and throw the McCain operation under the bus where it belongs. They, after all, don’t seem to be doing her any favors.