Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Rogue Rose of Alaska

As the date of decision draws near in this seemingly perpetual election of 2008, it doesn't look too rosy for the McCain/Palin ticket or the GOP generally.

Having been a part of a number of law firms over the years, both big and small, I've been able to observe firsthand the politics of law firm life. When everybody's "fat & happy" as they say, people are more willing to be magnanimous and overlook slackers and other problematic partners. However, when times get tough, it's every man for himself. Those personality quirks that were mere eccentricities all of a sudden become major character flaws that have caused or at least contributed to the current crisis. An internal battle usually ensues, with ugly accusations and blame, retribution and finally, a purging.

These recollections remind me of the final days of the McCain/Palin campaign.

The blame game appears to be in high gear, even before the election is held, Blame game: GOP forms circular firing squad:

“If you really want to see what ‘going negative’ is in politics, just watch the back-stabbing and blame game that we’re starting to see,” said Mark McKinnon, the ad man who left the campaign after McCain wrapped up the GOP primary. “And there’s one common theme: Everyone who wasn’t part of the campaign could have done better.”

“The cake is baked,” agreed a former McCain strategist. “We’re entering the finger-pointing and positioning-for-history part of the campaign. It’s every man for himself now.”
Every man for himself -- or woman, that is. Sarah Palin has apparently decided that it's time for her to be herself. CNN's Political Ticker reports on the "new & improved" version of Palin, Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says:
With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. . . .

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom." (Emphasis added)

Ben Smith of the Politico also notes the phenomenon, The Palin insurgency, stating:
Even as John McCain and Sarah Palin scramble to close the gap in the final days of the 2008 election, stirrings of a Palin insurgency are complicating the campaign's already-tense internal dynamics.

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain's camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain's decline.

"She's lost confidence in most of the people on the plane," said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to "go rogue" in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

"I think she'd like to go more rogue," he said.
Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly sums up the "Lord of the Flies climate," in A CAMPAIGN DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF, noting:
According to the piece in the Politico, Palin's people blame handlers for not letting her be herself. McCain's people blame Palin for being unprepared and unable to answer questions coherently. Palin's people don't want the governor to get the blame if the ticket loses, and McCain's people resent the lack of loyalty and discipline.
Gee, what a shock. When Palin was first picked, I did some reading up on her and discovered that she was "a hatemonger with a smile." Fear, Greed & Hate.

In early September, I noted, in Temper, Temper: "Andrew Sullivan writes of Palin in A Wasillan On Sarah Palin, quoting a Wasillan native who remarked that her high school classmates 'call[ed] her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness.'" See also, A Wasillan On Sarah Palin.

Palin is a prime example of the old maxim: Be careful what you ask for. McCain picked her to satisfy the extremist conservative base and to savage the Democrats. See Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says. Now that that doesn't appear to be working, she has turned her attention elsewhere. This Rogue Rose of Alaska is in full bloom. As Sarah (Tina Fey) Palin herself said the other night, "I like to think I'm one part practiced folksy, one part sassy and a little dash of high school bitchy." True that! You know, as Jon Stewart put it, She's Terribly Cute.

And so, Sarah speaks, in her own voice. Opining on subjects like fruit flies:

Of course, Richard Wolfe, MSNBC political analyst remarked that her statement about fruit flies "is the most mindless, ignorant, uninformed, comment that we have seen from Governor Palin so far and there's been a lot of competition for that prize." For more of Palin's greatest hits, see The Great Debate.

Reflecting on the GOP handwringing and referring to my favorite "sweet poetic justice" sentiment -- Schadenfreude, Kevin Drum says, Let the Defenestrations Begin:

I am so looking forward to this. Is this schadenfreude? Or does that require at least a veneer of pretending that you're not really taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others? I'm not sure. But I'm looking forward to it anyway.

And you know the part I'm really looking forward to? Sarah Palin's role in all this. I expect her to rip McCain absolutely to shreds. On background, of course, but it will be no less vicious for that. Her future, such as it is, lies with the wingnut rump of the party, and she knows what her audience wants: John McCain's blood. And lots of it. They never liked him in the first place, and I expect them to be howling for his head on a platter starting at about 8:01 pm EST on November 4th.

As noted above, when she was first selected by McCain, someone from Wasilla described the new VP pick to the unknowing electorate, in A Letter About Sarah Palin from Anne Kilkenny. She warned that there were a lot of people who have underestimated her and have regretted it. At the time, it was thought that this would be applied to Obama and the Democrats. Who would have thought that it could possibly be turned on McCain himself (other than anyone who knew her)?

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