First Presidential Decision

The Obama campaign has been known for thinking ahead. Before it was certain that Senator Obama was going to win the nomination, his campaign was setting up organizations in all 50 states in preparation for his race against Senator McCain.

The Obama campaign initiated a vetting process for Vice President that went on for months. With the press ready to jump on anything that could be a liability, the running mate had to have a solid record and high competence. The choice of Senator Joe Biden has been referred to as Barack Obama’s first presidential decision.

Senator John McCain has made his first presidential decision, nominating Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. He has certainly livened up the race, perhaps not in the exact way he would have wished. But he says that in all of the Republican party she is the best one to take that position, a heartbeat away from the presidency. He says that his party’s vetting process was complete, and that there is nothing about the candidate that comes as a surprise to his campaign.

The element of surprise, for some reason, was paramount. According to the Newsweek blog investigations were carried out in extreme secrecy…

Within the past few days, the McCain campaign dispatched a troop of GOP lawyers and investigators to Alaska to pull records on Palin. The move has been interpreted in recent days as a sign at the McCain campaign did not vet Palin as much as aides have publicly suggested. But a senior McCain aide, again refusing to be named because the process was private, insists the campaign is merely following up on what already had been an extensive dig into her background and that aides would have pulled the records earlier had they not been fearful of drawing attention to themselves.

So secure was the operation that Alaskan Republican party members who had served with Palin were not consulted, according to the Anchorage Daily News

Wasilla Mayor Dianne Keller said she had not heard of any efforts to look into Palin’s background, the Times reported. And Randy Ruedrich, the state Republican Party chairman, said he knew nothing of any vetting that had been conducted.

State Sen. Hollis French, a Democrat who is directing the legislative investigation, [into charges of abuse of office] said that no one asked him about the allegations. “I heard not a word, not a single contact,” he told the Times.

Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Curt Menard told the Daily News, “I never got called, and I never heard of anybody who got called.” Perhaps, he laughed, “They don’t even know where the Mat-Su Borough is.”

Dan Seamount, who served with Palin and Ruedrich on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, wasn’t contacted, either.

“I was taken by surprise just like everybody else,” Seamount told the Daily News.

Seamount’s observations might be of particular interest since he saw first hand how Palin was drawn into investigating Ruedrich for ethics violations in 2003. The case eventually led to Ruedrich being fined $12,000 and to Palin being thrust into the limelight as an ethics reformer in her own party.

On Sunday, The Washington Post quoted McCain campaign manager Rick Davis as saying the FBI conducted a background check of Palin.

But Monday, the FBI told the Atlantic Monthly no such check took place.

Was it a surprise to the McCain campaign that major newspapers in Alaska were not unreservedly endorsing their own Governor? From a summary of news coverage by Editor and Publisher

The second largest daily, The Daily News-Miner in Fairbanks, had editorialized yesterday that Palin was not qualified for the vice presidency. The Anchorage paper also raises questions on this score, while expressing pride in the local “girl.”

Ah, those Alaskans. So independent. None of that political correctness the Republicans so despise.

There is a bizarre sense that the Republicans are running against themselves, trying to distance themselves from the President and the past eight years. But the process by which John McCain chose his running mate reminds me very much of our current president, a man who has a pattern of making last-minute, startling decisions–a man who acts from his gut.

This whole episode reminds me of a president who would not wait, who was driven by a last-minute sense of urgency. This reminds me of the days prior to the start of the Iraq War when I listened to the UN Weapons Inspectors testify. I prayed that they would be allowed to continue to do their job, before we rushed to war only to learn that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

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3 responses

  1. First Presidential Decision…

    If this is the result of the best vetting process the Republicans can manage it’s time for a change. John McCain’s first presidential decision shows that he pulls a surprise at the last minute and shoots from the gut. Does that remind you of any othe…

  2. The story is taking shape now – Senator John McCain wanted to pick Senator Joe Liberman from get-go but the Christian Conservatives said no.

    With time running out (even when he had a 3 month head start) and panic setting in after Senator Barack Obama nomination speech, McCain chose recklessly.

    He needed a game changer and he rolled the dice but it now looks like he came up short.

    The happiest person must be Mitt Romney because he can now start laying the ground work for 2012 because 2008 now is a forgone conclusion.

  3. Speculation.

    And the liberal left is doing a lot of it.

    Nancy, I’m prepared to eat my words, but I would be willing to put a small wager that what McCain says is what he believes. In other words, the Palin pick wasn’t last minute but one he believed would best serve his campaign and the country.

    The issues cropping seem frivolous to me, in many ways and I think in the days and weeks to come will be long forgotten come november. What it will however demonstrate is the resolve of Palin to defend herself and promote the issues for which she is running on.

    Again, I’m prepared to eat my words and will do so if proven incorrect, but I’d be willing to be i’m closer to hitting this one than your comments. We’ll have to check back.

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