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July 10, 2009

Rogue? Palin's "Pals Around with Terrorist" Attack Delivered Almost Verbatim From McCain Playbook

Palin' comment was disowned by many McCain staffers and offered as evidence she was hard to control and/or "going rogue."

I actually do sympathize with their attempts to distance themselves from the attack -- after all, it's a vice presidential candidate's duty to act as attack dog, making the attacks the presidential candidate would prefer not to. Admitting a line of attack was cooked up at campaign headquarters and given to the veep candidate as a script is incompatible with this good cop/bad cop routine.

Still, while the McCain campaign had practical and understandable reasons to not take possession of the attack, they really went too far in pushing the claim entirely on to Palin -- who was already being savaged by the liberal media. True, you don't want McCain claiming authorship of the attack, but why can't mere staffers, entirely unknown to the general public and not running for anything, take some of the bad-cop heat on this?

A recent leaked email demonstrates that Palin said precisely what she was asked to say, and authorized to say. Almost verbatim.

But on the subject of linking Obama to ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers, it turns out that Palin hadn't gone rogue. Balz and Johnson answer this question pretty definitively. They've obtained an e-mail from campaign adviser Nicolle Wallace sent to Palin on the morning of October 4rd, with an attached New York Times article about Obama's relationship with Ayers.

Turns out that the McCain campaign was a week away from running an ad linking Obama to Ayers. The e-mail from Wallace, according to Balz and Johnson, reads as follows: "Governor and Team: rick [Davis], Steve [Schmidt] and I suggest the following attack from the new york times. If you are comfortable, please deliver the attack as written. Please do not make any changes to the below without approval from steve or myself because precision is crucial in our ability to introduce this."

McCain HQ had suggested the following line: "This is not a man who sees American as you and I do -- as the greatest force for good in the world. This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country."

At the event, Palin said this:

"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country. This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America."

I suspect this was all due to McCain's chief psychological problem (and a problem which would have made him a bad president, by the way -- just not as bad as President Oh-Bum-Looker). His overweening vanity was and is a crippling defect. He knew damn well that to beat Obama, who was the front-runner throughout the campaign except for a couple of magical weeks after Sarah Palin had lit the country on fire, he would have to attack Obama and expose his unsavory connections and paint him as a dangerous selection for president.

But his vanity, and his often absurd sense of "integrity," wouldn't permit him to do this, or at least wouldn't permit him to do this and be blamed for it. A bit like Richard Nixon reading the transcripts of the Oval Office tapes and flinching from all the expletives and ranting, "The president does not use expletives!"

Similarly, "John McCain does not engage in personal attacks!" Um, yes you do. You do all the time. You just can't acknowledge it to the public, and, worse yet, you can't even acknowledge it to yourself.

It's dangerous for a man to be a secret to himself.

And so, this: These attacks had to be made (and should have been made; the country has a right to evaluate whether a man who chums about with unrepentant terrorists "shares their values," as the poll questions say).

But John McCain does not make personal attacks.

Especially against the first serious (half) black candidate for office, and someone his media friends hold in such (excessively) high regard.

So McCain refuses to ever make something approaching a serious issue of this out of his own mouth (blowing a key opportunity to do so, when asked directly about it, at the third and final debate with Obama), instead only having Palin make the attack.

And then, when questioned about it, McCain staffers let her twist in the wind for it. I don't know if McCain ordered them to do so; it's just as likely they knew that McCain's vanity was such that he would never want such attacks associated with him, and thus did what they thought he'd want them to do.

Thanks to Heather.


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posted by Ace at 04:16 PM

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