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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Fox Dishes the Dirt on Palin

The effort within the McCain campaign’s upper ranks to pin Sen. John McCain’s loss of the presidential election on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is now in full swing,

Daniel James
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Nov 06, 2008

The effort within the McCain campaign’s upper ranks to pin Sen. John McCain’s loss of the presidential election on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is now in full swing, and Fox News’ Carl Cameron eagerly plays the gossip columnist.

On “Fox Report” last night with Shephard Smith, Cameron said he learned during the campaign that many within the McCain team were concerned that Palin “lacked the degree of knowledgeability” to be a heartbeat away from the presidency — but agreed not to report the details until the after the election.

Among the things she didn’t know, according to Cameron, were the names of all the countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement (United States, Canada and Mexico) and that Africa was a continent and not a country. Cameron also said Palin was prone to temper tantrums, and he later told Bill O’Reilly that Palin, at times, almost reduced her staff to tears.

Here’s the video, courtesy of TPM.

Clearly, as most sentient beings recognized shortly after Palin was chosen as Sen. John McCain’s running mate, Palin was completely unprepared for the job. At this point, no revelation about her would surprise me.

However, rather than beating up on Palin, it is obvious that the responsibility for McCain’s failure to win the presidency rests with McCain and his top advisers. Shephard Smith asked the correct question:

“How can they end up with a running mate who doesn’t know Africa is a continent…What happened with the vetting process?”

Cameron responded that the vetting process was “truncated.”

We know this is an understatement from Robert Draper’s piece in The New York Times Magazine, in which Draper reports the process lasted all of several hours:

For two hours, [McCain advisers Mark] Salter and [Steve] Schmidt asked Palin questions based on the vetting material. Salter says they discussed her daughter’s pregnancy and the pending state investigation regarding her role in the controversy surrounding the state trooper who had been married to her sister. The two advisers warned her that nothing was likely to stay secret during the campaign. Salter says that he was impressed. “The sense you immediately get is how tough-minded and self-assured she is,” he recalled three weeks after meeting her. “She makes that impression in like 30 seconds.”

Now all three of McCain’s closest advisers were on board. The next morning was Thursday, Aug. 28. Salter and Schmidt drove Palin to McCain’s ranch. According to Salter, the senator took the governor down to a place where he usually had his coffee, beside a creek and a sycamore tree, where a rare breed of hawk seasonally nested. They spoke for more than an hour. Then the two of them walked about 40 yards to the deck of the cabin where the McCains slept. Cindy joined them there for about 15 minutes, after which the McCains excused themselves and went for a brief stroll to discuss the matter. When they returned, McCain asked for some time with Schmidt and Salter. “And we did our pros and cons on all of them,” Salter told me. “He just listened. Asked a couple of questions. Then said, ‘I’m going to offer it to her.’ ”

WIth the presidential campaign over, McCain’s advisers can be forgiven for trying to redirect the blame for losing the election to Palin. They have their own futures to worry about. However, the lesson of the Palin pick was that she never should have been chosen in the first place, and for that, the blame for the loss rests squarely with McCain and his staff.

Daniel James | Daniel James is an author, keynote speaker, and entrepreneur who is a professional coach and gerontologist. Daniel holds a bachelor's degree from Georgia Tech, a master's degree from UCLA, a diploma in gerontology from the University of Boston, as well as a Professional Coaching Certification.


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