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Published: September 2, 2008
Because I have spent a better part of my life hanging around the hustings as a scribbler, there have been times when I have deluded myself into thinking that, in another life, I would have made a pretty fair-to-middling political consultant.
But then I quickly realize I would have spent more time standing in front of judges facing repeat offenses for assault and battery for beating the living daylights out of politicians who didn’t follow my cogent, erudite, savvy advice.
To be sure, if I had been in the same room with John McCain as he was reaching for the phone to call Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Arizona senator would have looked like Robert De Niro at the end of “Raging Bull.”
Are You Nuts?
Here’s the absolutely amazing thing about the decision to select Palin as McCain’s vice presidential running mate:
At some point, McCain had to find himself sitting in a room with his (a term used very loosely here) brain trust of advisers, and perhaps the candidate himself said something like: “Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Even though I’ve been hammering Barack Obama as being disqualified to be president of the United States because of his youth and inexperience, I’m going to go with a running mate with less experience in public office and who is even younger.”
And apparently McCain’s inner counsel all rose up and said: “Way to go, big fella! Great idea, John! Bully, just bully!”
No one thought, as I would have done in my fantasy career as a political operative, to grab McCain by the lapels, put him up against a wall and scream into his face: “Are you nuts? Are you CRA-ZY? Are you certifiably insane?
“Do you honestly believe tapping the anti-abortion, former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 27, not counting the moose, is going to galvanize disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters to flock to your campaign simply because your running mate is a woman?
“Explain to me how a vice presidential candidate who has been in political life for 20 minutes is going to give you a big bump coming out of the Republican convention?
Defense Is Relative
“And before you answer, here, let me slap you around some more. Sheesh!
“If you were so hellbent on picking a woman from Alaska as your running mate, why didn’t you select Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who sits on the Foreign Relations, Energy and Natural Resources, Health and Indian Affairs committees?
“What was I thinking? Experience? Never mind.
“And were your public relations flacks half in the bag when they argued Gov. Palin has defense credibility because she’s the commander in chief of the 1,800-member Alaska National Guard?
“Good grief, by that standard you have just managed to make Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, with 12,000 National Guardsmen under his authority, look like a NATO supreme allied commander.
“Or, put another way, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, with 2,160 sworn officers, commands a bigger fighting force than Sarah Palin.
“Why, you would have to be a doddering old fool to think Gov. Palin would make sense as a running mate. Oooops.”
And that is why my political consulting career would have ended before it began.