Saturday, October 25, 2008

McCain vs Palin, who to blame?

As Kevin Drum notes, the skirmishing has begun between the two camps. The first story he links to contains these items:
"These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves," a McCain insider said, referring to McCain's chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, and to Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush aide who has taken a lead role in Palin's campaign. Palin's partisans blame Wallace, in particular, for Palin's avoiding of the media for days and then giving a high-stakes interview to CBS News' Katie Couric, the sometimes painful content of which the campaign allowed to be parceled out over a week.

Her dodging of the press and her nervous reliance on tight scripts in her first interview, with ABC News, became a national joke — driven home to devastating effect by "Saturday Night Live" comic Tina Fey. The Couric interview — her only unstaged appearance for a week — was "water torture," as one internal ally put it.

Some McCain aides say they had little choice with a candidate who simply wasn't ready for the national stage, and that Palin didn't forcefully object.

... the final straw for Palin and her allies was the news that the campaign had reported spending $150,000 on her clothes, turning her, again, into the butt of late-night humor.

"She never even set foot in these stores," the senior Republican said, noting Palin hadn't realized the cost when the clothes were brought to her in her Minnesota hotel room.

"It's completely out-of-control operatives," said the close ally outside the campaign. "She has no responsibility for that. It's incredibly frustrating for us and for her."
Palin is unprepared to be Vice-President, but that aside, she was not handled well by the McCain campaign. In the first weeks after she became the nominee, they could have made her the "energy candidate" and put her in various places where energy is part of the economy of a particular state. Held press opportunities on energy only, while in the background tutoring her on other policy areas. Stuff like that.

What happened was that they put Palin in campaign rallies for the faithful, which was completely unnecessary as well as making her look overly right-wing and a bit nasty to the general electorate. Her bio was enough to seal the deal with Christian conservatives. It was the centrist vote they should have targeted, and could have, but didn't.

Taking into account the McCain campaign's other screw-ups, I think that they are mostly to blame for what went wrong. Maybe Palin was stubborn and a bad learner, but I doubt it. A vice presidential candidate typically follows orders, as Palin apparently did for the first five weeks. Especially a candidate that is new to the scene and fairly young.


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