Today’s Washington Post piece by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson on the McCain campaigns machinations regarding their vice presidential pick really confirms what many Democrats and political observers thought: the McCain campaign had zero understanding or respect for how women make their decisions of who to vote for. Balz and Johnson report that the McCain campaign believed Palin would help McCain win the vote of former Hillary Clinton supporters and women more broadly because Palin was a woman.
As McCain approached his convention, his advisers saw the challenges as overwhelming — and contradictory. First, he needed to distance himself decisively from the president. Second, he needed to cut into Obama’s advantage among female voters. Despite the bitterness of the primaries and some of the mutinous talk among Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most vocal holdouts, the polls showed Obama consolidating most of the Clinton vote. By midsummer, this had become an acute problem for McCain.
Is it any shock that picking an unqualified governor from a tiny state with less than a term of service failed to draw women to support McCain for president? Picking Palin was a cynical ploy, bread out of a fundamental lack of respect for America’s women. I mean, seriously…did these same McCain staff also worry that Obama’s pick of Biden would cost McCain male votes because, hell, men vote for men?
The arrogance and stupidity of the McCain campaign is only born out further by the fact that they only gave themselves “12 hours to compelte the vetting process, take a face-to-face measure of their leading candidate, decide whether McCain and Palin had the chemistry to coexist as a ticket, and make a judgment about whether she was ready for the rigors of a national campaign.” I wouldn’t buy a car or a house or pick a school for my kids with such little research, but the McCain campaign thought that sufficient to pick the person who would be second in line to the presidency.
The story goes on to report that while Palin was deemed legally suitable for candidacy (something which I or most any other Alaskan political blogger could have told you was untrue), she never received adequate evaluation of the political risks she carried. They really only looked at her incorrectly perceived upside. It’s not new information, but McCain himself made the decision to pick Palin after only an hour long meeting with her. In the end, this fact and the clear lack of detailed vetting that emerged during the course of the campaign, likely sorely cost him. That it was driven by an underlying desperation to shake things up and reclaim women voters seems to have produced an even less strategic, more risk-prone John McCain than we knew throughout the campaign. It’s no wonder that the end result was a crushing defeat, as Americans rejected both McCain and Palin.
Balz and Johnson reveal other intriguing insights in the McCain vice presidential selection process, notably how seriously Joe Lieberman was considered for the spot. I wonder what sort of “stunned” Holy Joe was when McCain told his pal that he’d picked a no-name from Alaska over him. If there’s anyone more self-righteous and egotistical than Sarah Palin, it’s Joe Lieberman and I can’t imagine he swallowed this bitter pill easily. Not that I feel bad for the man or anything…