Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Marc Ambinder interviews Shushannah Walshe and Scott Conroy, who have a new Palin book coming out:
How thorough was her vetting, really? Could anyone have possibly given her a scrupulous enough vet? How much of a problem was it that the rest of the campaign had to struggle to figure out who she was along with the rest of us?

The vetting was clearly minimal at best. The McCain campaign's priority was secrecy, not thoroughness. Palin filled out a questionnaire, A.B. Culvahouse did a phone interview with her for a few hours, Steve Schmidt and Marc Salter spoke with her in person, and that was about it. Though they successfully pulled off the secret mission of plucking the sitting governor from Alaska unnoticed, the consequences of not thoroughly understanding their own candidate became clear almost immediately. It was major problem for the communications shop, since they were unable to handle media requests and answer questions about Palin quickly and correctly. They knew almost nothing about her at first and were given no head's up that she was a serious candidate for the VP slot.
This is the person who McCain picked to possibly become be president -- at the very least someone who, just by the announcement of her candidacy, immediately becomes a major voice within the Republican party -- and John McCain and his senior staff thought getting it right was less important than controlling the short-term spin surrounding the rollout.

There's something about the air up there that just induces a certain kind of craziness. Think of LBJ changing nominees because word leaked out about an appointment, or Nixon's obsessions with leaks that brought us the Plumbers and Watergate.

If there's one thing that I really think makes Barack Obama a likely candidate to be an excellent president, it's that (as far as we know) he seems relatively immune to that particular hazard of the job. As for McCain...well, whatever one thinks of the Sage of Wasilla, the procedure in which she was chosen sure makes McCain look terrible, doesn't it?

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