’08 REVELATIONS THAT MAY LINGER…. With the release of “Game Change” shifting much of the political world’s focus back to the 2008 presidential campaign, it’s worth separating the interesting from the important.
The revelations about John and Elizabeth Edwards are interesting, but inconsequential — Edwards’ career is finished. Revelations about the Clintons don’t much matter, either — HRC is the Secretary of State and the intra-party hard feelings are largely a thing of the past. Reports that McCain campaign aides were worried about the senator’s wife having an affair are salacious, but irrelevant — McCain won’t seek national office again.
But disclosures about Sarah Palin still matter, inasmuch as the former half-term governor still has national aspirations and apparently intends to run for president in the not-too-distant future.
And to put it mildly, the new look backwards doesn’t cast the Republicans’ VP nominee in a positive light.
John McCain’s top campaign strategist said in an interview Sunday that Sarah Palin was dishonest as the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee and that her untruths have done long-term damage to her public image.
“There were numerous instances that she said things that were — that were not accurate that ultimately, the campaign had to deal with,” said Steve Schmidt in an interview broadcast on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “And that opened the door to criticism that she was being untruthful and inaccurate. And I think that is something that continues to this day.”
Schmidt cited an ethics report on the then-Alaska governor from her home state on an investigation into whether she had improperly used her government position.
“She went out and said, you know, ‘This report completely exonerates me,’” Schmidt said. “And in fact, it — it didn’t. You know it’s the equivalent of saying down is up and up is down. It was provably, demonstrably untrue.”
While the GOP strategist has previously criticized Palin, he has never before leveled such a sharp critique of her integrity — and certainly not on a national television.
To be sure, part of Palin’s problems as a national candidate stemmed from her conspicuous unintelligence, but her extraordinary capacity to make obviously false claims was almost comical. When even top McCain aides realize that the candidate’s running mate has a habit of almost pathological lying, there’s clearly a problem — and a reputation that may prove hard to shake.
Of course, the conspicuous unintelligence was troubling, too. She thought Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. She didn’t know why there are two Koreas. She couldn’t remember Joe Biden’s name. John Heilemann explained, “Her foreign policy tutors are literally taking her through, ‘This is World War I, this is World War II, this is the Korean War. This is the — how the Cold War worked.’ Steve Schmidt had gone to them and said, ‘She knows nothing.’”
And yet, he were are in 2010, a time in which Palin’s every Facebook utterance is deemed news by the major news outlets, and in a period where the Republican base considers Palin a credible presidential candidate.