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McCain Only Wants to Sit with the Cool Kids on the Bus

I think Robert Draper is a better blogger than journalist. Check out this passage from his GQ blog, which has none of the dull finish of his NYT piece on the McCain campaign, but a so much more interesting bite (h/t WT).

I’ve heard from one well-placed source that McCain has snubbed [Palin] on one long bus ride aboard the Straight Talk Express, to the embarrassment of those sitting nearby. It has surely been implied to the governor that she should be eternally grateful to have been plucked from obscurity. And yet the high water mark of John McCain’s campaign for the presidency unquestionably began on September 3, when Palin gave her nomination speech—and ended precisely twelve days later, when McCain went off-script—I have that on the authority of the person who participated in the writing of said script—and told an audience that he still believed the fundamentals of the economy were strong.

McCain being an asshole to Palin? Check. McCain demanding her eternal gratitude for the huge favor he did her by turning her into a national laughingstock? Check. McCain going off-message when he made one of the biggest fuck-ups of this campaign? Check.

Three sentences, and each of them offering a nugget as delightful as the best line from his NYT piece.

“For better or for worse, our campaign has been fought from tactic to tactic,” one senior adviser glumly acknowledged to me in early October, just after Schmidt received authorization from McCain to unleash a new wave of ads attacking Obama’s character.

That said, Draper seems to think Palin got a bum rap with this deal. Me? I think McCain and Palin deserve each other. 

Sarah Sends Uncle Toobz to His Room without Any Dinner

Sarah Palin on her mentor Uncle Toobz’ felony conviction:

"This is a sad day for Alaska and a sad day for Senator Stevens and his family," she said on the tarmac at Richmond International Airport. "The verdict shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company up there in Alaska that was allowed to control too much of our state. And that control was part of the culture of corruption that I was elected to fight, and that fight must always move forward regardless of party affiliation or seniority or even past service.

"As Governor of the State of Alaska, I will carefully now monitor the situation and I’ll take any appropriate action as needed. In the meantime, I ask the people of Alaska to join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system and I’m confident that Senator Stevens from this point on will do the right thing for the people of Alaska," she also said. [my emphasis]

Sounds to me like the purportedly corruption-fighting governor is vouching that Toobz will be on his best behavior going forward, and Alaskans should all trust Sarah to keep him on the straight and narrow.

I can’t help but wonder whether Sarah is thinking about the fact that her own running mate failed to disclose his gambling winnings on his Senate disclosure forms, that she herself was probably saved from an illegal $150,000 gift (in the form of Neiman Marcus togs) by the embarrassment of having it exposed, and that she was recently found to have her own corruption problems in using state government to achieve her own personal vendettas. Oh, and don’t forget the free house she and Todd may have gotten, courtesy of the contractors who built the over-budget hockey rink in Wasilla. 

After all, when you and your running mate are at risk of being busted for the same kinds of things Uncle Toobz got busted for, forgiveness going forward must look awfully smart. 

GOP Civil War: WardrobeGate Edition

CNN seems to have access to McCain’s cattiest advisors. The other day, they got the "Diva" slam on Palin. And yesterday, they got the news that Palin had gone "rogue" with her statements about her rent-a-wardrdobe in Tampa.

Ensuring that news of the Republican National Committee’s sartorial spending spree will remain in the headlines for at least one more news cycle, Sarah Palin on Sunday sounded off on the $150,000 wardrobe that was purchased for her in September, denouncing the report as "ridiculous" and declaring emphatically: "Those clothes, they are not my property."

A senior adviser to John McCain told CNN’s Dana Bash that the comments about her wardrobe "were not the remarks we sent to her plane this morning." Palin did not discuss the wardrobe story at her rally in Kissimmee later in the day.

Now, aside from the latest rumor–that Mitt’s advisors are the source of the anti-Sarah leaks–I am fascinated by the lingering damage of WardrobeGate.

Former Mitt Romney presidential campaign staffers, some of whom are currently working for Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin‘s bid for the White House, have been involved in spreading anti-Palin spin to reporters, seeking to diminish her standing after the election. "Sarah Palin is a lightweight, she won’t be the first, not even the third, person people will think of when it comes to 2012," says one former Romney aide, now working for McCain-Palin. "The only serious candidate ready to challenge to lead the Republican Party is Mitt Romney. He’s in charge on November 5th." 

[snip]

Some former Romney aides were behind the recent leaks to media, including CNN, that Governor Sarah Palin was a "diva" and was going off message intentionally. The former and current Romney supporters further are pushing Romney supporters for key Republican jobs, including head of the Republican National Committee. 

You see, it amazes me that, given how badly WardrobeGate damages both McCain and Palin, McPalin campaign staffers are still addressing it. Read more

Palin Family Values: No Relationship of Trust with Her Family?!?!?

Yeah, I know. Someone on McCain’s team called Sarah Palin a diva. But I’m much more intrigued that that McCain adviser said Sarah "does not have any relationships of trust with … her family." 

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."

Is this person honestly suggesting that Palin doesn’t have a relationship of trust with Todd Wormtongue? That he stalked Mike Wooten for two years–purportedly out of concern for her safety and the safety of her sister–but she doesn’t trust him? That she allows him to sit in on all of her cabinet meetings, not to mention her debate prep sessions? That she’s lugged her family around to so many campaign meetings it has made McCain’s people squirmy? That Todd submitted a potentially false deposition to Stephen Branchflower to downplay the degree to which he, Todd Palin, was orchestrating the pressure on Walt Monegan?  That Todd and she gave the personnel board investigator a sworn deposition yesterday, together? But she doesn’t trust him?!?!?!?!

Man. Circular firing squad is fun and all, but that’s just creepy.

When “Mavericks” Clash

Poor McCain. He has spent so much time insinuating that Barack Obama is a traitor that he failed to fight off the traitor in his own camp.

 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.

Aside from the delicious pleasure of yet another Republican firing squad story, this one is useful for its revelation that the neocons on McCain’s staff are trying to resuscitate Sarah Palin’s damaged image.

Palin’s loyalists say she’s grown particularly disenchanted with the veterans of the Bush reelection campaign, including Schmidt and Wallace, and that despite her anti-intellectual rhetoric, her closest ally among her new traveling aides is a policy adviser, former National Security Council official Steve Biegun. She’s also said to be close with McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, who prepared her for the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate.

Lovely. Ahmad Chalabi’s lobbyist, Randy Scheuneman, continues to make a project of Sarah Palin. What do you think is more likely? She’ll sneak out of the country in the trunk of a car after having embezzled millions? Or she’ll trade code word intelligence to the Iranians?

Did McCain KNOW the RNC Bought Palin the Shopping Spree?

clothes-encounters.jpg

WT has been chronicling Sarah’s extreme makeover, including this picture (AP/Carolyn Kaster) she captions, "YOU told me I could keep the clothing!" I think she’s right–there’s a load of tension there.

And I think several things suggest the breaking news of Sarah’s spree is the precipitating factor in recent chilliness between McCain and his Caribou Barbie.  There’s the terse way McCain responds to questions about it.

Presidential candidate John McCain isn’t happy about having to explain why the Republican Party has had to buy running mate Sarah Palin $150,000 in clothes, hair styling and accessories.

McCain was asked several questions on Thursday about the shopping spree — and he answered each one more or less the same way: Palin needed clothes and they’ll be donated to charity.

There’s the "tenseness" that Chuck Todd notes. Todd’s wrong to suggest McCain and Palin weren’t comfortable with each other, yet–after all there was plenty of chemistry about four weeks ago (at least on the part of McCain; Palin’s always been a little uncomfortable when he leered at her), and they traveled together and hung out in Sedona for a good chunk of that period of time. So I think Todd’s other suggestion–that McCain is blaming Palin for their failing campaign–makes more sense. And given the timing, the blame seems focused on the latest abusurdity of the $150,000 shopping spree.

Add in the well-reported history of McCain–the guy formerly known as a maverick reformer–attacking precisely this kind of campaign expenditure.

MCCAIN: Madam President, the amendment before the Senate is a very simple one. It restricts the use of campaign funds for inherently personal purposes. The amendment would restrict individuals from using campaign funds for such things as home mortgage payments, clothing purchases … and vacations or other trips that are noncampaign in nature. […]

The use of campaign funds for items which most Americans would consider to be strictly personal reasons, in my view, erodes public confidence and erodes it significantly.
[emphasis TP’s]

Not that ignorance would exonerate McCain one bit–he still owns resposibility for allowing his campaign to do something that, in his own view, "erodes public confidence." But this signals the degree to which even McCain (who after all has better than average self-delusion skills) has to recognize that his campaign refutes everything the myth of the maverick reformer was supposed to be about.

Read more

Saks Fifth Socialism

Democratic "socialism:"

Tweaking the tax code to shift the enormous tax break President Bush gave to his "base"–earners in the top 2% of the country–to those struggling to put food on the table and send their kids to college.

Republican socialism:

Taking $150,000 of money at a time when your candidate is taking public financing for a presidential election to buy an over-priced new wardrobe for the vice presidential nominee.

palin-no-public-funding.jpg

Republican communism:

Using $150,000 for new duds while receiving public financing when your own family doesn’t pay into the presidential public finance fund.

Update: Corrected to reflect that this money came out of RNC funds, not McCain funds.

Update: Saks corrected to spell it like people who shop there would spell it, per brendanx.

The Palins Meet Mrs. McCain

Lots of people are talking about Jane Mayer’s description of how some horny neocons took a cruise to Alaska and discovered Sarah Palin there. But that’s by no means the best part of the article.

The best part is the last paragraph:

Palin initially provided the McCain campaign with a boost, but polls now suggest that she has become a liability. A top Republican close to the campaign said that McCain’s aides have largely kept faith with Palin. They have been impressed by her work ethic, and by what a quick study she is. According to the Republican close to the campaign, she has sometimes discomfited advisers by travelling with a big family entourage. "It kind of changes the dynamic of a meeting to have them all in the room," he told me. John McCain’s comfort level with Palin is harder to gauge. In the view of the longtime McCain friend, "John’s personal comfort level is low with everyone right now. He’s angry. But it was his choice."

Update: Ut oh. Apparently the McCain campaign is not alone in its surprise at having to deal with the extended Palin family.

As governor, Palin justified having the state pay for the travel of her daughters – Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; and Piper, 7 – by noting on travel forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events on the governor’s schedule.

But some organizers of these events said they were surprised when the Palin children showed up uninvited, or said they agreed to a request by the governor to allow the children to attend.

In case you’re wondering, this includes Bristol Palin’s trip to NYC on the Alaksa taxpayer’s dime.

In October 2007, Palin brought daughter Bristol along on a trip to New York for a women’s leadership conference. Plane tickets from Anchorage to La Guardia Airport for $1,385.11 were billed to the state, records show, and mother and daughter shared a room for four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House hotel, which overlooks Central Park.

The event’s organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter.

Obama’s Firewall: Commie, Unpatriotic, “Fake” Virginia

So let me get this straight: All those civil servants and employees of the military-industrial complex living in northern VA are Communists.

They are unpatriotic and anti-American.

And they are not "real" Virginians.

I get that the McPalin campaign is all-but conceding that they cannot win the votes of those who know government best, including many many members of the military and national security community. I might ask why they’re conceding that, why they seem to admit they can’t gain any resonance with these voters, but whatever–I guess they’ve seen the polling.

What I really want to know, though, is how this is not, effectively, a concession for the entire race. McCain has admitted he needs to win all the Bush states that are currently still toss ups: FL, NC, MO, IN, CO, NV.

And VA.

(IA and NM, in which Obama holds big poll margins right now, would bring Obama to 263; VA has 13 electoral college votes.)

Yet his campaign seems to be pursuing a strategy designed to offend the largest chunk of Virginia’s population.