Let's assume that Sarah Palin is exactly as smart and disciplined as Barack Obama. But instead of the year and a half of nonstop campaigning he has behind him, and Joe Biden's even longer toughening-up process, she comes into the most intense period of the highest stakes campaign with absolutely zero warmup or preparation. If she has ever addressed an international issue, there's no evidence of it in internet-land.Today, CNN has a chorus of McCain aides venting a litany of frustrations about Palin, including this:
The smartest person in the world could not prepare quickly enough to know the pitfalls, and to sound confident while doing so, on all the issues she will be forced to address. This is long before she gets to a debate with Biden; it's what the press is going to start out looking for.
So the prediction is: unavoidable gaffes. The challenge for the McCain-Palin campaign is to find some way to defuse them ahead of time, since Socrates, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz reincarnated would themselves make errors in her situation. And the challenge for Democrats is to lead people to think, What if she were in charge?, without being bullies about it.
Fallows was dead-on not only about the impossible task facing Palin but with his advice to the Obama campaign, which forecast their handling of Palin to a T.
But two sources, one Palin associate and one McCain adviser, defended the decision to keep her press interaction limited after she was picked, both saying flatly that she was not ready and that the missteps could have been a lot worse.
They insisted that she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain's record.
"Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic," another McCain source familiar with prepping Palin told CNN, saying it was probably the "hardest" to get her "up to speed than any candidate in history."