Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hang Time

How long before Gov. Sarah Palin is off the GOP ticket?

I'd give it 12 more days. Maybe Gustav manages to save her and the GOP with McCain able to grandstand on Monday rather than have Bush and Cheney speak at the Convention. Maybe it just gives them more hang time.

Easily the most telling news I've read these past 24 hours is that the vetting process was so deficient that a Democratic opposition researcher has revealed that he was the first to contact her hometown newspaper for the archived stories not available on the paper's Website. Word is that the McCain campaign only today sent eight "researchers" (ratio of researcher to fixers?) to the town, but the Dems obviously got there first.

This tells us two things: Sen. John McCain made an ill-prepared decision, and the Dem side just made sure they can't be cut in line by McCain's team without everyone knowing it's a fix.

And they can pass stories to the press first, too.

The more current stuff, her "Troopergate," is starting to come out. The potentially damning story begins :35 in.

Look, I've read the suppositions and question-provoking time-line and photos about her family and wonder if it's the greatest Karl Rove plant ever, so I think it's a place to tread carefully, and ultimately only germane as yet another demonstration of John McCain's dangerously unsuited-to-the-Presidency decision-making style. This wouldn't even be a question if we'd already gotten to know her nationally, or via a major state. Or if she'd be 100% vetted.

It also calls into question two other core McCain strengths: his honor and integrity. It also calls into question just how adolescent is his personality -- per Hilzoy:

The more I learn about this choice, the more it reminds me of Bush's choice of Harriet Miers. I don't think it's at all similar in its political ramifications -- Miers' nomination was seen as a betrayal by social conservatives, the very people who are thrilled by Sarah Palin. But it is similar in the manner in which each was chosen. In each case, the person who made the choice had wanted to pick someone else, someone he regarded as a close friend., In each case, he was told that he couldn't choose that person because it would be politically disastrous. In each case, the person who made the choice responded not by sitting down and thinking about who might fill the role s/he was to be nominated for with distinction, but by making a quick and ill-considered choice of a plainly unqualified person, a choice that seemed like an insult to the office that person was nominated to fill.

Moreover, in each case that choice reflected the fact that the person making it was chafing at the discipline required of him. As far as I can tell, Bush reacts very badly to the idea that his powers as President are limited in any way, or that he owes anything whatsoever to his party or his allies. McCain is similarly undisciplined: he has been willing to do what his party requires of him, up to and including sacrificing his honor and his principles, but he visibly bridles at it, and he seems to be thrilled at the chance to be a maverick again. If that requires picking a vice presidential nominee who is wholly unprepared to take over as President, without doing anything like the vetting a Presidential campaign would normally require, then so be it.

I heard someone working at the supermarket who was clearly leaning to embrace the Palin pick today say that it showed McCain was a gambler -- as if that was a good thing. We know Obama plays poker and used those skills to recognize when Hillary had revealed her "tell" -- an in-person encounter during the Primaries when he knew he had gotten to her. We know McCain loves to play craps, throw those dice, and he did it again on Friday. Both are a form of gambling, but Michael O'Hare explains the difference:
Poker is a game of nearly infinite subtlety and complexity, in which money is managed across a constantly changing information landscape as deep as the psychology and perspicacity of all the players. Smart poker players are much better at it than dumb ones, though smart in the usual sense is not enough to be good at it. Some people are bored with poker and can't concentrate on it well enough to succeed, but not because it's beneath their intelligence. The nearest analogy is investing in securities, or perhaps commanding small units in combat, except for the team aspect of the latter and the impersonal dimension of the former.

Craps, like roulette and a slot machine, is a simpleminded exercise whose players pay a fee for a particular kind of reptile-brain excitement. It is not social, and no player can change the odds on the next move, which are a set of nine numbers that never change (though more complicated side bets are possible, they also depend on a fixed small set of probabilities). There is no such thing as being good at craps, and no such thing as being a steady winner.
But let's let some video tell the story. Is Palin somehow a foreign policy expert due to geography? Ask expert Cindy McCain:

Is she, after just one date, what John McCain described today as his "soul-mate?"

Is there anything telling about this hilarious and maybe unfair video dissection from The Jed Report?:

Now, compare all that drama, which the McCain campaign clearly wanted to stir up in hopes of catching the news cycle and from there the campaign in an exponentially greater way than even the Clinton tried back during the primaries, with the Obama-Biden team, interviewed in Denver by 60 Minutes just minutes after Obama's historic acceptance speech Thursday night:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Which team seems more trustworthy to run this great country?

My next prediction: with Huckabee chafed for not being vetted, with Romney pissed that he did so much to defend McCain these past few months after coming in second but got dissed, Pawlenty probably thrilled that the convention in his city is being shortened after being told he all but had the job last Wednesday/Thursday morning and ending up with eggface, and even some serious neocons offended, McCain either makes Palin work or by a month from now, especially if she does an Eagleton, he'll be like kryptonite -- radioactive.

My earlier prediction that by November 4th voting for John McCain over Barack Obama is still on track. Maybe they can whitewash Palin fast enough, but her first two weeks may be the hardest to survive. Troopergate questions at the Biden-Palin debate could be devastating just for being asked, and I don't think the GOP elders would let her get that far.

There's a reason that McCain's choice is sucking all the air out of the campaign, and there will be reason why we'll be grateful for more Obama when he chooses to expose nationally again (I'd bet not until the debates) rather than his increasingly popular state/local visits. We don't want to be disappointed, we want this country run right again.

Maybe I'm mistaken, maybe it'll take longer than I'm thinking to metasticize, but with Palin I'm thinking John McCain just rolled snake eyes.

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