The time has already come for assessing blame and naming those at fault for the McCain loss. It didn’t take long for anonymous McCain staffers to trash Sarah Palin (without having the guts to put their names on the allegations). That takes real courage, doesn’t it? The debate isn’t over Sarah Palin’s qualifications or knowledge of foreign affairs. That one’s been lost, because even though most of us like her, we know her limitations as a VP candidate. This is about these anonymous McCain people blaming her for their failures.
I want to know who these people are and how much influence they had in whatever vetting process took place before Palin’s selection. If they were involved in her selection, believing that she wasn’t ready for the job, and yet telling McCain to pick her anyway, that’s political malpractice. It could just be that McCain ignored those people to pick Sarah, and they don’t want to be blamed for what many people see as a bad choice by McCain. Whatever scenario you want to believe, it doesn’t reflect the McCain campaign in a positive light.
One mistake that was made in the Palin selection was that the McCain campaign had to spend valuable campaign time defending Sarah’s record and qualifications — time that could have been spent defining McCain’s own message. The goal was to make the case for himself and explain why Barack Obama would be a risky choice for America. Even with the pick of Governor Palin, and the diversion it may have caused in the campaign, there were clear opportunities for John McCain to make that case, and he wasn’t able to do it. That’s not Sarah Palin’s fault.
It was going to be an uphill battle against Barack Obama, even if Republicans had a candidate a majority of us could support. The results shouldn’t surprise anybody, taking into account the current President’s unpopularity and the damaged Republican brand over the past 8 years. But it would have been a worse loss without Governor Palin on the ticket. She energized the base and got McCain more Republican votes than he would have gotten with any other pick. She deserves credit for that, and most of the blame for a mismanaged McCain effort should go to his campaign team, not to her.