What began as a muttering and grumbling on the internet, much more surprisingly has become a chatter in the stalwart Mainstream media even. What was John McCain thinking, when he presented Sarah Palin as a VP candidate? What does it tell us about his character, his crisis management skills, about his clout within the party and most importantly, about his judgment?
Why crisis management? Well, it was a crisis for him. He had wanted to appoint either Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge and when venting his thoughts created an uproar within the evagelical right wing of the Republican Party. What about his clout? Is he running the campaign or is it run for him and who would you have to expect will be running his Presidency? So how did he solve this crisis? He threw a temper tantrum and picked Sarah Palin, the most unqualified of the short list. That tells us a lot about his volatile character, which obliterates any good judgment he might have, when his anger is stirred.
John McCain has managed to highlight the fact that he is 72 years old with a compromised health, by chosing this utterly improbable running mate. He has cast a shadow of doubt on his own qualification to be commander in chief in a crisis and the press now looks on this trainwreck with horror, disgust and, in some cases, poorly disguised glee. But see for yourselves:
The vetting issue is a touchy subject for the McCain campaign obviously, or they wouldn’t have cancelled McCains appearance on Larry King Live. Here is a CNN panel discussing this and some:
UPDATE: And (another H/T to wordie, who hunts up all those videos and shares them with us) here’s David Gergen, saying it like it is:
From across the pond:
Michael Tomasky, The Guardian
In four days, [Palin]’sbecome a punch line. Democrats should go after her here and there, but again, the main target should be the man of such alleged wisdom and judgment that, when he didn’t get what we wanted, threw up his hands, stomped his feet at the other boys on the playground, said the hell with this and chose the absolutely most unqualified running mate he could have chosen. McCain could still win this election – of course. There’s a long, long way to go. But if he loses, Palin will go down as maybe the single most boneheaded decision a presidential candidate has ever made in America. (read more)
In another article:
Good God. This is the man who’s touting his superior judgment?
He now has, quite deservedly, a full-fledged disaster on his hands. More things will start dripping out. Moderate voters are off this bandwagon, as polls will begin to affirm. She’s there only to placate social conservatives. He dumps her, he infuriates them. He keeps her, he loses massive credibility with non-right voters. He’s really stuck. (read more)
One former Bush Administration official described himself to me as “personally disgusted” by the selection, one that betrayed a desire by Mr McCain for short-term political gain at the expense of the national interest.
But the anxiety — and alarm at Mr McCain’s high-stakes gamble — is palpable. As David Frum, a former speechwriter for President Bush, put it: “When someone takes the rent money and puts it on black at the roulette table, and it comes up black, we don’t say, “Wow! What a terrific piece of judgment.”(read more)
The Independent doesn’t focus so much on Sarah Palin but on Hurricane Gustav. That doesn’t mean it’s good press for John McCain. Scathing, I’d call it:
And when the disasters come, McCain will not adequately protect the victims.
McCain voted repeatedly against a Senate investigation into what went wrong during Katrina. Evidently, he didn’t think it was worth looking into the fact that for years before Katrina, Louisiana howled at the slashing of levee funding by 44 per cent to pay for tax cuts for the rich. Even the money they were given was being handed on to incompetent Bush cronies rather than the best people for the job.
The Army Corps of Engineers now admits, for example, that they knowingly installed broken pumps manufactured by a company headed by Jeb Bush’s ex-business partner and campaign donor. The same people have been given a lackadaisical contract to rebuild the levees by 2011. McCain then voted against extending unemployment benefits and medical care to Katrina refugees, or even giving extra cash for new radio systems for the emergency services. (read more)
And back again:
The LA Times doesn’t have much trust either:
One Republican strategist with close ties to the campaign described the candidate’s closest supporters as “keeping their fingers crossed” in hopes that additional information does not force McCain to revisit the decision. According to this Republican, who would discuss internal campaign strategizing only on condition of anonymity, the McCain team used little more than a Google Internet search as part of a rushed effort to review Palin’s potential pitfalls. Just over a week ago, Palin was not on McCain’s short list of potential running mates, the Republican said. (read more)
The New York Times, asks the judgment question, too:
Mr. McCain’s hurdles are substantial. To start, he has to overcome Mr. Bush’s record of failures. (The president addressed the convention Tuesday night and now, McCain strategists fervently hope, will retire quietly to the Rose Garden.) That record includes the disastrous war in Iraq, a ballooning deficit, the mortgage crisis — and the list goes on.
To address those many problems, this country needs a leader with sound judgment and strong leadership skills. Choosing Ms. Palin raises serious questions about Mr. McCain’s qualifications. (read more)
It is on both sides of the pond, that the question is being raised. Is John McCain cut out to be President at all? You are maybe lucky McCain’s choice of running mate highlights his weaknesses now, so you can still be spared to watch his judgment and skills being tested live in a severe international or economic crisis.