Monday, September 01, 2008

The vetting of Sarah Palin

Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic has dug into and now written about the process by which Sarah Palin was vetted, chosen and announced.

McCain adviser A.B. Culvahouse actually did the vetting. The attack against her lack of experience was anticipated and talking points were prepared. (She has more experience as an executive than Obama does.) They anticipated comparisons between Alaska and Arkansa, and comparisons between Palin and Quayle. They were also aware of some scurrilous rumors which they discounted.

They did NOT realize that she had run for governor supporting the Bridge to Nowhere, claiming that the residents of Ketchican were not "nowhere" to her. nor, apparently were they aware that she had decided to spend the federal money originally earmarked for the Bridge on other pork projects in Alaska. They also missed the fact that she does not believe that global warming is caused by human activity, that she supported the windfall profits tax on oil companies, or that as mayor of Wasilli she personally took trips to lobby for earmarks. They definitely were unaware that she had "...told a television interviewer this summer that she did not fully understand what it is that a vice president does."

Apparently, Marc says, even as late as early last week everyone on McCain's staff thought the Veep choice was between Romney, Pawlenty and Lieberman. That there was a surprise in the offing did not begin to leak out to the staff until sometime Wednesday.

In short, this was a decision that McCain himself made and held very close to his vest until the very last minute. Steve Benen describes it as Worst.Vetting.Ever. Why did they not at least do a Nexus-Lexis search to find the media parts like her original support of the Bridge to Nowhere and her statement to the reporter that she didn't know what a Vice President does?

The conclusion has to be that this decision is representative of McCain's decision-making style. It may not have been completely impulsive, but it was clearly poorly staffed. Presumably the fear of leaks that would spoil the surprise to the media and the public overrode adequate vetting of Sarah Palin. The result has been political incompetence.

Well, the announcement of Sarah Palin sure was a surprise, but almost as much a surprise to the McCain campaign as to the media. That's what inadequate vetting gets you. Bad decisions and nasty surprises.

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