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The Ship is Sinking but it’s not Palin’s Fault

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What’s all this furor? With barely a week to go, Sarah Palin has become the CNN scapegoat for McCain’s impending doom. CNN’s Rick Sanchez attempted another “Gotcha” moment yesterday afternoon as he tried to catch Palin disagreeing with Boss McCain on Ted Stevens; but before he could assess her first statement about the “sad day in Alaska,” an official statement was released with Palin asking Stevens to relinquish his senate seat. It seemed like such a basic breakdown of communication that the two positions weren’t corroborated from the moment Stevens was sentenced. What I want to know is: What is WITH these advisers??

Consistently, the McCain campaign has been described by their opponents (and the media) as “erratic,” “disconnected” and “out of touch.” If only John McCain could pick a brilliant message and stick with it — rather than rushing heatedly from one position to the next, all the while spewing out Old School politics advertising to character assasinate Obama. When a message was finally chosen (following the Democratic National Convention), it was the same “Change” message Obama preached and Sarah Palin seemed the perfect agent of that change. But now McCain’s aides are spouting off to news sources that Sarah Palin is “a diva,” “a rogue,” and someone who “takes no advice from anyone” but rather “plays for her own future.” These trusted advisers make Joe Biden’s windedness look saintly!

So are the advisers’ charges justified? HAS Sarah turned into an out-of-control Maverick Diva?


The Palin Phenomenon

Well, through no fault of her own, she’s become a nationwide celebrity. Sure, her poll ratings are lousy (the latest poll revealed that 47% of American’s dislike her), but those who do like her… LOVE her. At any given rally, you’re likely to find a couple hundred Palin doppelgangers donning frameless glasses and pulled back hair, not to mention loads of signs proclaiming “Palin 2012” or “Hockey Moms for Palin” or “Joe Mama.” It’s incredible the amount of media attention she’s received — not just in the news, but in spin-off Youtube videos, fan-sites, Saturday Night Live sketches and even porno films! Her rallies have consistently pulled in higher numbers than McCain’s! Her supporters say, “when Sarah was allowed to be Sarah,” her image took on a life of its own, dwarfing the very man she was running alongside. Certainly, this isn’t exactly what the McCain camp envisioned when they chose her as the Maverick SIDEKICK.

But let’s be honest: Her ambitions have been no secret… from her “a Palin-McCain Administration” gaffe to her admission that her favorite VP was “George HW Bush because he went on to become the President.” Lest not we forget that she also played competitive sports, entered a competitive beauty pageant and moved up the ranks from Mayor to Governor in Alaska fairly quickly. She shook up everyone working under her, fired those deemed disloyal and took on members of her own party — all things that she’s proud of, yet things that paint another side to this kindly Hockey Mom. In essence, McCain had to know what he was in for when he picked this whipper snapper! Pitbulls don’t do well in obedience training school.

Family Quarrels

Over the course of the campaign, she’s disagreed with John on several major issues — things like drilling in ANWR, the negative ads, pulling out of Michigan, the economic stimulus, a federal gay marriage ban, earmarks, sex education in schools, the cause of global warming, removing North Korea from the terror list and on unilaterally invading Pakistan.

Perhaps she wasn’t briefed on the McCain policies… or any policies for that matter. Now she’s being criticized for doing interviews without consulting the McCain advisers, writing her own scripts for public events and ignoring criticism. Some McCain aides have even called the Governor a “whack job,” while another charged that she “does not have relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.” A senior Republican told Politico that Palin is frustrated with Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt for throwing her to the wolves — notably Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric — without briefing her beforehand. She’s also upset about the recent clothing fiasco that left her holding the (shopping) bag. Character sniping is to be expected, but to Palin, it seemed the McCain campaign didn’t truly have her back… that she was just pushed out to sea on an Alaskan iceberg and chastized when she floated off-message, even when that message wasn’t communicated to her. “Recently, she’s gone from relying on McCain advisers who were assigned to her to relying on her own instincts,” one of her aides said. Can you blame her?

Kelly McParland of the National Post certainly doesn’t. “Palin, who has barely been out of Alaska before, was trotted out to pose with a bunch of bemused old kleptocrats who were in New York for their annual shopping expedition and speech at the UN General Assembly. She was spruced up with a bunch of designer clothes, apparently hauled by the armload from the kind of snotty shops they don’t have in Anchorage, or anywhere else in Middle America for that matter,” McParland writes. “She was kept from the working press, then plopped down without warning before Katie Couric and Charles Gibson, left to fend for herself while trying to remember what the briefing book said about the gross national product of Upper Klodpurnia. She didn’t look comfortable, and no wonder. It wasn’t her, and never would be. If John McCain wanted a well-dressed woman who could chill with the president of Pakistan while conducting peace talks on her BlackBerry, he should have picked Condoleezza Rice.”

The Sunny Side

Amid all the finger-pointing, John McCain has tried to remain positive on his sinking ship. “By the way, when two mavericks join up we don’t agree on everything,” he chuckled at a Pennsylvania rally. “But it’s a lot of fun.” Of course, it’s not fun to McCain aide Nicolle Wallace who commented by email, “I have no comment other than what’s in the story, if people wish to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the graceful thing to do is to lie there.” Another senior McCain adviser reportedly told CNN: “This is what happens with a campaign that’s behind; it brings out the worst in people, finger-pointing and scapegoating.” What could be more fun than that, aside from losing?

Former Reagan strategist Ed Rollins says that winning or losing won’t make much difference for Palin, who will definitely be “the most popular Republican in this country when this thing is over.” Given her ambitions and her army of devout followers, I’m betting on Sarah Palin vs. Hillary Clinton in 2012. Europe’s looking pretty good right now…