They've long-danced on the issues they had with her, particularly Nicolle Wallace who was responsible for the VP candidate, until begging off the job. But yesterday on Wallace's Dateline: Washington show on MSNBC they opened the door. Among the things Schmidt said was that Palin was "psychologically deteriorating, manifestly unfit to be anywhere near the command authority." And then added, "It wasn't an interviewing problem, though she was ignorant, and she was mean, and she was divisive, it was the psychological unsuitability."
The two talked about conversations they had during the campaign, about how to contain Palin and even get her off the ticket. Their ace in the hole, they said, was that all the gifts, booty and money that the Alaska half-term governor "was pocketing" during the campaign that was valued over $80-100 were felonies according to Alaska state law, and if she wouldn't leave of her own volition, that threat would be used. But when the economy crashed, it was apparent they would lose, so no drastic action was needed.
While it's good to have one's observation confirmed about Sarah Palin -- not that it's needed -- and comforting to know that there were plans to protect against her, the reality is that little of this is especially comforting.
For starters, it reinforces how irresponsible the vetting process was and shameful that John McCain selected her in the first place, potentially putting her a heart-beat from being president. All the more so given McCain's recent passing. But also, there's nothing convincing said here that Schmidt, Wallace and perhaps others would have been able to get her off the ticket, if more powerful voices prevailed. And as much as they said it wasn't necessary in the end because they knew they'd lose -- there's absolutely zero guarantee at the time that they would be right about that. From all reports, people on the Trump campaign thought they was going to lose the day before the election and were submitting their resumes around.
Further, that Schmidt, Wallace and the very few others have remained silent about this during the years after the election when Sarah Palin became a noteworthy figure in far-right Republican politics, with a profile and voice that was followed closely, almost reverentially by a good part of the base, traveling the country, bashing Democrats, is no mark of honor on their part.
I'm sure it was an overwhelming difficult matter to know how to handle properly, especially in the middle of a presidential campaign. And very difficult, as well, to bring it up subsequently, just "oh, by the way" out of the blue. But fortunately they can discuss it today in context because current news about Trump, Bob Woodward's book, the New York Times anonymous editorial and conversation of the 25th Amendment provides an opening to address it easily. Nonetheless it's been 10 years at this point, as they themselves have subsequently moved on with their careers and as Palin herself stayed on the scene and in the news, albeit finally in recent years as a largely-dismissed figure of derision. There have been opportunities to reference it. It's no small deal, after all -- considering dropping someone from a presidential ticket because they were "psychologically deteriorating" and committing felonies. And no matter how much they admirably say they were talking about plans to contain her and even get her off the ticket -- they didn't. In fact, rather than be horrified above everything at the prospect of a collapsing, wildly unqualified, criminal Sarah Palin a heartbeat from the presidency they say that they felt "anguish" for her, having been put in this position for which she was out of her depths and falling apart. And that's deeply thoughtful and extremely decent on a personal level, but ultimately in the larger national landscape their efforts enabled her. Covered up for her. Normalized her. And have for a decade. Without a warning sound. Especially as a Trump moved up the ladder over the past three years, to where we are now.
In fairness, I don't know what they should have done or how they should have handled it at the time or over the past decade. They mention that it was all very painful, and offhandedly even mention that neither were invited by the family to John McCain's funeral -- a comment that zips by all too fast. And I understand how burying the past and moving on is a way to get past agonizing times. But no matter how difficult or painful, the reality remains that there has been an awareness for a decade that Sarah Palin was on the presidential ticket and remained a strong voice on behalf of conservative views and candidates for many years after, even stumping for the Trump campaign.
But for all that, it's putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. Because why Sarah Palin was considered, vetted and selected in the first place by the McCain campaign to be the nominee as Vice President of the United States , and approved by John McCain, putting America last in the biggest decision of his life, is another matter entirely and far bigger...