Since their self-proclaimed "revolution" in 1994, the Republicans have pioneered a new kind of politics in the United States. Whether you think this is a good thing depends on what subjects you think should be discussed in a presidential campaign and otherwise and, as always, whose ox (or, in the case of rugged Sarah Palin, moose) is being gored.
For instance, with all the members of the right-wing echo chamber playing constant defense for all these years during the disaster that is Still-President Junior Bush, how are they going to complain about every dip in the economic cycle when a Democrat is in office? Every recessionary tic, every massive job-loss, every rise in gas prices, every Enron or Abramoff or sub-prime mortgage scandal was excused as either out of Bush’s control or caused by Bill Clinton two, then three, then seven years ago.
I know, I know...these hacks hardly pride themselves on consistency and will saddle President Obama with responsibility for every bad thing that happens anywhere, even if they defined the same as a good thing under Bush. Without the capacity for that kind of hypocrisy, these people couldn’t exist.
Now, with John McCain’s spectacularly un-vetted nomination of the less-than-rookie Sarah Palin as his soul- and running-mate, the GOP has re-written the rules of the game once again. Campaigns for both major parties can now forget about spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lawyers, accountants and investigators to vet their desired candidates. If Palin’s tenuous nomination survives, all those things that used to keep campaign managers awake at night – religious nuttery, the purging of disloyal city and state managers, attempts at book-banning, unwed teenage pregnancies, contributions to indicted an senator’s 527, even participation in a secessionist cult – just don’t matter anymore. What a revelation! What a gift to future campaigns!
No longer will "the first important decision" of a purported presidential candidate be judged by the standard of whether they proposed a vice presidential candidate can be ready to take over in a crisis or, at least, manage not to embarrass a campaign. Now, who cares if she’s ready; the 72 year-old cancer survivor is promising to last at least 6 months while she gets trained, I guess. And, embarrassment? Bring it on! We’re bold, maverick, risk-taking! We’ll see if the gamble pays off. It's as if McCain didn’t find Palin in Alaska, he found her at a high-roller craps table in Vegas. Come on, baby, roll a seven – baby needs shoes!
The standard now must be not whether the candidate gets it right, but how talented the candidate’s staff is to stave off the inevitable "reporting" by those pesky news organizations, who not only poke around about irrelevant stuff like the state-imposed vindictive punishment of a former brother-in-law, but also want to know how and why the candidate tried to pull this rabbit out of the hat in the first place. With the training by but none of the evil talent of Karl Rove, McCain’s henchmen have their leaden talking points in place about the supposedly sexist treatment of Palin (like they should talk – have you ever any Republican talk about Hillary Clinton?), the fact that she has "executive experience" (and never you mind how she used it) and blah de blah blah.
But, although they found themselves moderately capable of keeping the wolves from Palin’s door (at least until her first press conference, which, I’m guessing, will be in about a month), they were unable to explain themselves and how they got themselves in this situation.
The story in the Washington Post this morning about the accelerated, incomplete and inept vetting process on Palin was all too much for McCain senior campaign advisor and Rove wannabe Steve Schmidt, who pronounced today that "this nonsense is over" and claiming that the campaign will answer no more questions about the failed vet. Which is fine – why talk about something you can’t defend? Then the Post version stands as the final version of this part of the failed candidacy of the impulsive, not-ever-ready John McCain.
It is obvious what happened. McCain put an artificial deadline on the process. They finally came around to Palin last Wednesday (after McCain was talked out of his first choice – the now, after last night, officially pathetic Joe Lieberman – and with Tim Pawlenty as the only other possibility). The staffers met with her for the first time Tuesday and on Wednesday she let them know her unwed teenage daughter was preggers (Did she also tell them her daughter changed high schools and was living with her aunt this spring? Inquiring minds want to know...). But by that time, she was all locked in and McCain couldn’t go back and still meet his timeline.
It makes you wonder what they found wrong with Pawlenty, a safer choice and, I’ll bet, more fully vetted. But it also identifies a trait with McCain that we have seen too much of from the Bushies in the past eight years: Locked into a course of action, he’ll ignore any information telling him not to do it. We saw such a thing play out, in spades, in the Stupid War in Iraq. Do we really want to deal with this quick-draw, don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts attitude in the White House again?
This is all about McCain, not Palin. Palin will get a wild reception from the convention crowd tonight -- I mean, what else do they have to shout about? But the far-right Palin's popularity with the GOP base just shows how out of touch they are with normal people.