Monday, October 27, 2008

Off-script: Pointing fingers, assigning blame, and questioning the Palin pick

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Our Headline of the Day comes from no less a media behemoth than The New York Times:

A few thoughts:

1) Duh.

2) The Times is a bit late getting to this. The second-guessing has been going on for weeks. Some of it started right away. There aren't any new revelations here, though recent comments from Ridge and Graham, critical of the Palin pick, are right up front.

3) Let the blame game continue. The article's author, Adam Nagourney, notes, dryly, and almost like he has to, that "McCain may still win the election," but what's quite evident is that Republicans are preparing for defeat -- and perhaps a massive one at that. Ridge and Graham, and especially the latter, are good friend of McCain, but they seem to be pointing the finger if not at McCain then at least at his campaign.

If only I had been picked, says Ridge. If only Lieberman had been picked, says Graham. Would McCain-Ridge or McCain-Lieberman be in a better position now than McCain-Palin? Maybe. Probably, but perhaps not by much. After all, neither Ridge nor Lieberman would have excited the base the way Palin has, and conservatives mostly would have been turned off altogether. McCain-Ridge or Lieberman would be doing better among independents, and perhaps would not have lost some moderate Republican support, nor the endorsements of high-profile Republicans like Powell, but it would not have the party's extremist fringe as motivated as it is now.

4) The blame game is already being played inside the McCain campaign. The latest claim is that Palin went off-script by addressing the wardrobe story at an event yesterday in Florida. And of course there has already been talk of Palin "going rogue."

Right now, with the election just over a week away, fingers are pointing all over the place. Even from McCain's friends.

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    Sort of reminds you of an Ed Muskie aide back in the '72 primaries who said he had orders "never to put Senator Muskie in a situation where he had to think" after Muskie had stuck his foot in his mouth yet again. I guess Palin's handler must feel she has a case of Musk-mouth disease, too.

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