Palin v. McCain: Republican Rumble

>> Sunday, October 26, 2008

The McCain campaign has become a microclimate of the GOP. Constant discord and strife, infighting and circular firing squads. The epicenter of this most recent fight is blame over McCain's failing campaign. One side wants to blame palin for being incompetent and a complete drag on the ticket. The other side blames the McCain team handlers for not letting Palin be Palin. It all kicked off with a report by politico's ben smith

Even as John McCain and Sarah Palin scramble to close the gap in the final days of the 2008 election, stirrings of a Palin insurgency are complicating the campaign's already-tense internal dynamics.

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain's camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain's decline.

"She's lost confidence in most of the people on the plane," said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to "go rogue" in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

"I think she'd like to go more rogue," he said.

Smith goes on to outline the palin camps frustration over her very restrictive treatment and the McCain camps counter charges of her complete and utter unreadiness. Palin essentially sees the writing on the wall and wants to make sure her career and political future is not destroyed by being tied to McCain. Personally i think that ship has sailed. However Plain clearly does not and just as clearly the McCain team wants to make sure she becomes the top line reason for the loss. They are attempting to generate conventional wisdom that blames palin for dragging everything down.

Instead of triggering denials and push back that everything is peachy keen in McCain land Cnn ran with the story and included more quotes from McCain aides and Palin stalwarts detailing the campaigns inner battle.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- "irritating" even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."

This is simply the explicit stating of things that some were observing under the surface. MSNBC's Chuck Todd commented on the apparent lack of chemistry between the two after the recent brian williams interview.

"When you see the two of them together, the chemistry is just not there. You do wonder, is John McCain starting to blame her for things? Blaming himself? Is she blaming him?...We are at a critical juncture inside this campaign for the McCain folks and that is who is trusting who? You have got people worrying about their reputations. Now you are wondering do the candidates trust the staff? Does the staff trust the candidates? This is a dangerous time in a campaign that is behind."

The underlying story here is clear. The McCain people think that Palin has no idea what she is doing and is undercutting and creating distractions. They view her as incompetent and someone who needs to be tightly controlled to minimize the damage. They are right about that. Palin has failed in just about every attempt to answer substantive questions. She draws attention to her inexperience and captures the news cycle with stories that put mccain on the defensive.

But two sources, one Palin associate and one McCain adviser, defended the decision to keep her press interaction limited after she was picked, both saying flatly that she was not ready and that the missteps could have been a lot worse.

They insisted that she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain's record.

"Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic," said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the "hardest" to get her "up to speed than any candidate in history."

The crux of the problem is that you cant blame palin. She has her political future to think of. From every indication she is confident in her abilities. She truly believes that she should be given more room to do what she wants and she is going to make that room. She was picked by the McCain people to be the VP and that alone should give her a self belief. No the people responsible for this are McCain, Black, and Schmidt. This is possibly the best quote of the entire cycle and it shows exactly why those three people are responsible.

After that first brief meeting, Davis remained in discreet but frequent contact with Palin and her staff — gathering tapes of speeches and interviews, as he was doing with all potential vice-presidential candidates. One tape in particular struck Davis as arresting: an interview with Palin and Gov. Janet Napolitano, the Arizona Democrat, on "The Charlie Rose Show" that was shown in October 2007. Reviewing the tape, it didn’t concern Davis that Palin seemed out of her depth on health-care issues or that, when asked to name her favorite candidate among the Republican field, she said, "I’m undecided." What he liked was how she stuck to her pet issues — energy independence and ethics reform — and thereby refused to let Rose manage the interview. This was the case throughout all of the Palin footage. Consistency. Confidence. And . . . well, look at her. A friend had said to Davis: "The way you pick a vice president is, you get a frame of Time magazine, and you put the pictures of the people in that frame. You look at who fits that frame best — that’s your V. P."

Schmidt, to whom Davis quietly supplied the Palin footage, agreed. Neither man apparently saw her lack of familiarity with major national or international issues as a serious liability. Instead, well before McCain made his selection, his chief strategist and his campaign manager both concluded that Sarah Palin would be the most dynamic pick...

The next morning was Thursday, Aug. 28. Salter and Schmidt drove Palin to McCain’s ranch. According to Salter, the senator took the governor down to a place where he usually had his coffee, beside a creek and a sycamore tree, where a rare breed of hawk seasonally nested. They spoke for more than an hour. Then the two of them walked about 40 yards to the deck of the cabin where the McCains slept. Cindy joined them there for about 15 minutes, after which the McCains excused themselves and went for a brief stroll to discuss the matter. When they returned, McCain asked for some time with Schmidt and Salter. “And we did our pros and cons on all of them,” Salter told me. “He just listened. Asked a couple of questions. Then said, ‘I’m going to offer it to her.’ ”

There is no way that the McCain people are allowed to complain about Palin being uniformed. They knew she was uninformed. They picked her for the same confidence on display right now. Viewing the Charlie Rose interview they admired her tactic of latching onto pet issues and never letting go. They knew everything they needed to know about sarah palin before they picked her and not only didn't they care about the flaws they admired them. They were right that she was a dynamic pick and she does look good. It just so happens that the other things like policy matter too. Her strengths have been weaknesses and her weaknesses have been fatal flaws. Palin has been who she is but it turns out that who she is is not what the McCain camp projected they were getting.

It was all there but it took someone better than schmidt mccain and co to see it. Now they are repenting at leisure a marriage they made in haste as the pick they thought would put them on top has instead begun to tear them apart. Palin will continue to fight for her personal future and set the stage for her dream 2012 run against Huckabee and Romeny. The McCain loyalists will continue to paint palin as the backstabbing diva who cost them the race and dems everywhere will sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude.


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