Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sarah Palin, McCain Campaign: Scapegoating Sarah Palin

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The McCain Campaign:
Mistakes, But Hampered Ultimately By Both the Candidate and his Campaign Advisers--Not by Sarah Palin

McCain Campaign is Responsible for McCain's Defeat

Palin Was Attacked from the Inside from Almost the Moment She gave the McCain Campaign their First Realistic Chance at Victory

The McCain Campaign Rats vs. Sarah Palin


The McCain campaign made some shrewd moves, but it also was guilty of some moves that ultimately doomed its unlikely candidate--with the most momentous misstep coming from John McCain himself.

Like any losing campaign, those in charge of the campaign seek to lay the blame for losing on factors beyond their control. In this regard, the long knives came out from various unnamed aides and advisers in the McCain campaign, who are anxious to run from their responsibility for the Election 2008 loss.

Most of those knives appear to have Sarah Palin's name on them--and they were unsheathed before the race for the presidency was even over.

In what can be most charitably described as "resume-polishing", various aides in the John McCain campaign have continued their practice of leaking uncomplimentary "anecdotal" information detrimental to Sarah Palin.

Understand: these "aides", "advisers" and "sources" from "within the McCain campaign", as they're labeled, bear much responsibility for a campaign that, like its candidate, was somewhat unconventional and ultimately failed to win McCain the presidency.

These staffers--most of whom will soon be in the job-hunting market--apparently feel that there's a wider market for an aide from a losing campaign that was sabotaged from within. Stories of an "uncooperative" VP pick inoculates them against any bad decisions made by such "aides" and "advisers".

These aides-gone-rogue merely have to pick up their cellphone or hit "send" on their email--anonymously, by the way--and a waiting press eagerly elevates such grousing and sour grapes from gossip to gospel.


There is much for which the McCain campaign can be proud.

  • John McCain garnered the fourth-largest vote total for any candidate in history.
    His total of 56,497,501 votes were more than any previous losing Republican candidate. It was also the fourth-highest popular vote total in U.S. history.
  • McCain won 21 states with 174 electoral votes.
    Included in this total were wins in states in which McCain was outspent by a wide margin. McCain was also competitive in the "battleground" states, losing several by close margins, while winning others.
  • The McCain campaign produced these numbers with a not-unimpressive ground game.
    Republicans in general however, voted in less numbers than they did in 2004. Also, there were paticular groups who came down on the side of Obama: wealthy voters across the USA voted for Obama, for instance.
  • John McCain was never a favorite of conservatives--this site included. McCain's "maverick" image was achieved by attacking conservatives and Republicans.
    Still, McCain's naming of Palin as his running mate energized conservatives.
  • McCain took a risk and named Sarah Palin as his running mate.
    McCain's campaign was staffed with many non-conservatives. The campaign's failure to excite the Republican base was evident prior to the naming of Palin. After Palin, contributions and volunteers came into the McCain camapign from conservatives--many who were prepared to "sit out" this election.

That being said, John McCain was a Republican candidate that the New York Times could love--and indeed, the NYT did endorse the Arizona Senator in the primary election. Of course, after the election, the NYT and the rest of the Mainstream Media deserted McCain, just as many predicted would happen.


Even, the Times' Elizabeth Bumiller is skeptical about the unnamed aides involved in the McCain leaks. From
Internal Battles Divided McCain and Palin Camps

As a top adviser in Senator John McCain’s now-imploded campaign tells the story, it was bad enough that Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska unwittingly scheduled, and then took, a prank telephone call from a Canadian comedian posing as the president of France. Far worse, the adviser said, she failed to inform her ticketmate about her rogue diplomacy.

As a senior adviser in the Palin campaign tells the story, the charge is absurd. The call had been on Ms. Palin’s schedule for three days and she should not have been faulted if the McCain campaign was too clueless to notice.

All of the McCain rats prefer to stomp their sour grapes in the darkness.

“I think it was a difficult relationship,” said one top McCain campaign official, who, like almost all others interviewed, asked to remain anonymous.

For her part, Palin has "refused to address the strife within the campaigns. “I have absolutely no intention of engaging in any of the negativity because this has been all positive for me.”"

So the it's the "unnamed McCain advisers" talking to Big Media on one side.

On the other side, there is Sarah Palin--and the millions of like-minded Americans who attended McCain rallies for the sole reason of hearing her speak.

Ann Coulter may be a polemicist, but she distills one of the main problems with John McCain as the Republican messenger: his message was crafted to enhance his credentials among non-Republicans. Every time it was discovered that Obama took an outrageous stand on an issue, more likely than not, John McCain stood beside him.

Republicans lost this presidential election, and I don't blame the messenger; I blame the message. How could Republicans go after B. Hussein Obama (as he is now known) on planning to bankrupt the coal companies when McCain supports the exact same cap and trade policies and earnestly believes in global warming?

How could we go after Obama for his illegal alien aunt and for supporting driver's licenses for illegal aliens when McCain fanatically pushed amnesty along with his good friend Teddy Kennedy?

How could we go after Obama for Jeremiah Wright when McCain denounced any Republicans who did so?

How could we go after Obama for planning to hike taxes on the "rich," when McCain was the only Republican to vote against both of Bush's tax cuts on the grounds that they were tax cuts for the rich?

And why should Republican activists slave away working for McCain when he has personally, viciously attacked: John O'Neill and the Swift Boat Veterans, National Right to Life director Doug Johnson, evangelical pastors Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and John Hagee, various conservative talk radio hosts, the Tennessee Republican Party and on and on and on?

The problem with John McCain's message ultimately was: on most issues, John McCain was Lib-Lite. His foreign policy stands were the most notable differences with Barack Obama.

Otherwise, there was little to choose among the candidates, especially after Obama tacked hard right on taxes and a host of other issues.

The McCain campaign is not responsible for McCain's past stands on the issues: it's the hand they were dealt. But, they are responsible for their candidate and his message.

They are also responsible for John McCain's single cause for defeat.


John McCain billed himself as a "maverick", who would fight established interests.

Palin, who had attacked her own Republican Party and entrenched interests in her run to the Alaskan governor's office, could rightly lay claim to the label, "maverick".

During the financial crisis, John McCain had the single example to prove that he was indeed a maverick.

Instead, he suspended his campaign, flew to Washington and voted for an unpopular bailout bill--that will saddle American citizens, their children and grandchildren with a tremendous tax burden for generations to come--that squarely originated from the Bush administration.

When John McCain had the opportunity to walk the walk, he chose--like Barack Obama--to talk the talk.

Instead of calling for investigations into wrong-doers and those responsible, he chose to side with his colleagues in the Senate and House. McCain had been on the right side of reform when he called for the reform of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in 2006.

His bailout vote relegated that vote to the memory hole. He also lined up with Barack Obama on this particular issue. The siren song of "Bipartisanship" caught the Arizona Senator's ear at a most inopportune moment.

McCain was at that point leading in the polls. Afterwards, his campaign never recovered from John McCain's retreat from maverick to establishment pol.

As Rush Limbaugh observed, "John McCain's campaign staff has spent more time attacking Sarah Palin than it did attacking Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers...and Obama himself."

Among some of the gossip elevated to "news" by the sinking McCain ship mates were claims that Palin was:

  • A shopaholic;
  • Threw tantrums;
  • Didn't know about American exceptionalism;
  • Didn't know Africa was a continent;
  • Just one of the "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman-Marcus coast-to-coast".

Big Media has proved to be a mouthpiece for all things anti-Republican and anti-conservative. This latest Palin bashing is no different.


Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, rehashes Big Media's talking points on how it covered the McCain campaign. Zelizer does so in the guise of listing five "mistakes" the McCain campaign made.

After listing what he considers historical presidential campaign errors, Zelizer reveals more about his point of view than he does about the McCain campaign. In case readers mistake the Newsweek piece for journalism, the second page title reads, "Worst Campaign Ever?" From John McCain's chaotic operation may well rank among recent history's least successful efforts:

But Team McCain ran a campaign that ranks on the bottom of this list. This was an aimless and chaotic operation made worse by poor choices at key moments. Their first mistake was picking Gov. Sarah Palin.

Zelizer's list of other McCain "mistakes":

  • McCain missed the biggest lesson of the Reagan Revolution: conservatives usually do best when they appeal to America's optimism and develop a positive campaign around a vision for the country.
  • The third mistake was the "no-state" strategy. In contrast to Obama's "50-state" strategy whereby Democrats hoped to win support in red states, the Republican ticket moved from one state to the next without any clear rationale.
  • The fourth mistake was the way McCain handled the crisis on Wall Street.
  • McCain's final mistake was to leave his most politically powerful argument until it was too late. While there were many problems with Joe the Plumber, the argument could have been used much more effectively against Senator Obama: that the Democratic ticket was too left of center, especially on the issue of taxes.

Zelizer winds up by giving one last Newsweek touch: "Now, the McCain-Palin campaign will be added to the list of devastated losers." The author also empirically observes, "In contrast, Obama's decisions and performance seemed presidential."

Losing campaigns point fingers. Winning campaigns congratulate each other.

2008 is no different.

However, Election 2008 heralds a year in which the losing campaign's aides and advisers acted like losers--with the leaking of anti-Palin gossip months before the election took place--from almost the very moment that John McCain's naming of Sarah Palin gave them a realistic chance to hope for victory.

by Mondo Frazier

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