I’m truly amazed by the reports coming out of the McCain campaign. Now, according to the New York Times, McCain’s advisers admit that they were blind-sided by Sarah Palin’s lack of knowledge and reluctance to prepare for interviews. The reporting of Carl Cameron of Fox News goes even further, saying the Alaska governor did not realize Africa was a continent:
We’re told by folks that she didn’t know what countries that were in NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, that being the Canada, the US, and Mexico. We’re told she didn’t understand that Africa was a continent rather than a country just in itself … a whole host of questions that caused serious problems about.
It’s true that in the wake of a failed campaign there’s always going to be finger pointing. I’m sure Palin feels that Team McCain is attempting to throw her under the bus: the ill will was clear when McCain permitted Tina Fey to take a shot at his running mate over her 2012 ambitions with him on set.
At some point, however, blame has to be assigned at the ticket’s top. As soon as McCain picked Palin, I suggested it would be a disaster for the Republicans.
To me, it’s a desperate and reckless pick. The Republicans seem to be ready to throw away their best argument, experience, for the novelty of somebody new.
Given the all but nonexistent briefing of Palin, we now know how true that was.
The issue all these aides, Palin and McCain himself need to confront is how did they let this happen? Aides owe a duty to their principals to give them their best advice and then their loyalty. McCain had an obligation to the country to select a running mate ready to be president. And Palin had a responsibility to herself and to her country to decline a top post if she knew she wasn’t prepared for it.
EDIT. I’m adding a quote I’ve subsequently located from an anonymous McCain aide describing Palin’s $150,000 shopping spree: “A “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast.” Note that when members of the Blue-Coastal Media and blog community made similar comments around Labor Day, they were dubbed culturally-biased and anti-feminist by the pro-McCain forces.