Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin pauses during a campaign stop in Dover, N.H., on Wednesday.
So much of politics has to do with timing. Why, mere weeks ago it seemed as if the McCain campaign might pull off a wild-card win, riding high on the excitement generated when Sarah Palin burst onto the scene, ready for her close-up. Or was she?
Since Palin’s surprising entrée in late August, her image as a scrappy reformer who proudly planted herself outside “good old boy” political circles has been challenged by Democrats and Republicans alike, and as The Huffington Post’s Thomas B. Edsall points out, she could wind up hurting the McCain campaign when it comes to key endorsements and votes.
Thomas B. Edsall in The Huffington Post:
“Within weeks, she became a liability, primarily as a highly visible indicator of McCain’s impulsiveness and recklessness in picking someone who is patently unqualified to serve as president and commander-in-chief. McCain’s only chance of making this election competitive was to contrast his readiness to serve with Obama’s inexperience and naiveté. The Palin choice was the first clear sign (others followed) that McCain could not win that comparison.”
Norman Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, agrees about the immediate gains, noting that the “short term boost dissipated awfully quickly. Palin’s clear lack of capability to serve as VP, much less as president, her lack of knowledge of even basics about most areas of policy, her ethical problems in Alaska over Troopergate, and the campaign decision to cloister her from serious scrutiny, all caused a drop in her own approval, but also reflected on McCain’s decision-making style.” Palin continues to “generate enthusiasm from hard-core Republicans who would not be as charged-up if the running mate were, say, a [Mitt] Romney or [Tim] Pawlenty,” Ornstein says, “but the downside is definitely greater than the gain.”