“Mentally Unstable”


There are vast institutional and professional reasons why the total farce of the Palin vice-presidential candidacy has not yet been exposed in all its horrifying details. But "Game Change" and Steve Schmidt's Sixty Minutes interview begin to explain the inside details of what was, to those of us on the outside, the most surreal and dangerous period in domestic politics in memory.

Schmidt was integral to picking Palin. And he did so without knowing the first thing about her. There was no serious vetting, however many lies they told at the time to cover up their recklessness. Schmidt had no idea that Palin had a pregnant teenage daughter, for example, until after the nominee had been announced. Which means Palin didn't tell Schmidt, or someone else in the campaign (but who?) withheld that information from Schmidt. We're talking Keystone Cops levels of competence.

For some reason, McCain's determination to have another bitter old failure, Joe Lieberman, be his bipartisan running mate was never subjected to the cold rational analysis that the current GOP simply wouldn't go for it. In today's Party of God, a man with Lieberman's social views – on abortion, women, gays, healthcare – was simply out of the question. A serious campaign (and McCain's was a deeply unserious one, held afloat on the mythological vapors of Mark Salter and McCain's previous image as a feisty moderate) would have had a few deeply researched and hashed out backups for Lieberman. But McCain had none.

And so when Lieberman was nixed at the last minute by state party chairmen and their allies, we had the specter of Rick Davis actually scrambling through Google to find a woman – any woman – who could complement McCain. The sexism was due to Davis' and Schmidt's and McCain's bizarre notion that alienated Clinton primary voters would flock to a cranky old pro-lifer as long as someone with estrogen was his Number Two. The sheer distance from reality this implies and the identity politics it represents found its natural apotheosis in Palin: also detached from reality, and also an identity politics candidate – but not for women, as it turned out, but for the white Christianist far-right. And so McCain triggered a rebirth of the old GOP more akin to the party before Buckley – with racists, extremists and religious nuts defining the party's base, as they still do.

This was a farce; a joke; a disaster. Palin had no notion of basic high school history. She barely understood what the Cold War was.

She didn't know what the Federal Reserve did. She believed that her First Amendment rights meant she was protected from press inquiries. She couldn't tell you why there's a North and a South Korea. And she had an inability to distinguish between her own view of the world – which always rationalized everything that Sarah Palin did – and reality. This discovery then led to the elaborate and panicked strategy of shielding Palin from any direct press scrutiny – she held zero open press conferences in the campaign – and the desperate attempts to cram as much into her brain before the one-on-one media interviews and the veep debate. She also, as Schmidt details, had a capacity for saying things that were demonstrably untrue, even repeating them forcefully after the world had moved on. The Dish chronicled this bizarre record as it unfolded, but the more we found out about her, the loopier she seemed.

Inside, we now know, it became clear to many McCain aides that it was simply irresponsible to allow her to assume the office of vice-presidency. Their patriotism eventually came to the fore, as they contemplated the horror of this total novice and ignoramus – however sexy and eager to learn – actually running the United States. The responsible thing to have done, of course, would have been to have taken her off the ticket early on. But that, of course, would have destroyed what was left of McCain's chances. For a presidential candidate to concede that his first significant presidential decision had been a total fiasco would be to concede that he shouldn't be president. And indeed, McCain shouldn't have been president. In fact, he should in my view resign from the Senate because his conduct of the last campaign revealed that he put narrow partisan interests ahead of core patriotic ones. He was prepared to allow someone to replace him as president who, his own staff believed, could be "mentally unstable."

Think about that for a minute. A campaign for president had as its vice-presidential nominee someone many of the campaign strategists believed was "mentally unstable." The idea that in office they could have relegated Palin to a vice-president as beauty queen was also revealed to be surreal given Palin's propensity for going rogue and the fact that she wielded much more clout within the GOP than McCain did. Not only was she vastly unqualified to be president, as vice-president she would have rendered McCain the Potemkin president.

This was indeed surreal. It should never have happened. That such a figure came near the presidency of the United States is so alarming an insight into the self-serving cynicism of the political elite that one understands where the rabid populism now comes from. By Andrew Sullivan


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29 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Madonna
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 11:52:00

    The Turkey/Palin video might be the video of the year in 2009. Is she pals of the Cohen Brothers?
    It finally happened. The wedding that has been long awaited. Sarah Palin, the former of Alaska has signed on as a contributor to the Fox News Channel.

    The network confirmed that Ms. Palin will appear on the network’s
    programming on a regular basis as part of a multi-year deal. Financial
    terms were not disclosed. Ms. Palin will not have her own regular
    program, one person familiar with the deal said, though she will host
    an occasional series that will run on the network from time to time.
    This person would not elaborate, but the network does have a
    precedent for such a series. Oliver L. North is the host of an
    occasionally running documentary series on the military called “War
    She's in good company, with many other Fox Newsers having similarly checkered pasts. All is forgiven if you're a conservative. Oliver North sold weapons to Iran, Dick Morris has an affinity towards hookers and toe-sucking and other bizarre notions. Mark Furhman destroyed the first O.J. case and was hired on. Karl Rove, with subpoenas and investigations into his role in the U.S. Attorneys scandal lingering, gets a fat contract. The list goes on and on.
    Palin, who quit her job as Governor of Alaska, fits right in to the
    right wing stable of wingnuts Roger Ailes has assembled. I wonder why
    it took so long.


  2. sjohnson
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 12:13:00

    Nice article. Sure makes me angry at McCain for being so self-serving and reckless with our country. So how does it feel to have your party hijacked by Palin and the other extremists? I worry for without a strong two (or more) party system, our type of government will not go well.


  3. ken
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 16:31:00

    well she just joined fox news,is going to be heading up the tea party convention.and there is talk of the ''tea party'' becoming a real political party.damm i'm loving 2010 so far………


  4. sjohnson
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 17:24:00

    Well said. I couldn't agree more. All news media is biased, but Fox news stands head and shoulders above the rest for having not one shred of integrity.


  5. Syrin from Wasilla
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 18:21:00

    Of course this was all a fraud, with catostophic results! To me: Col. North has honor and Integrity.. He has an actual career to follow and commentary to analysis. Sarah Palin does as well. But, everything is wrapped in deceit, abuse of power and vindictive bahavior! Quite curious to me as a Christian and of course Conservative that she keeps moving up where there are clearly others who should have a short. John and Steve- The shear arrogance to google for a VP. If that's Country First- Thanks But No Thanks!!!


  6. Syrin from Wasilla
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 18:25:00

    Palin and Fox News….
    This is forever going to change conservative standards for relevent news.. They're giving this ignoramus and mentally unstable woman credibility where there is none..It's a sham, fraud..For Palin to 'contribute' would discredit any issue or individual she is being associated with. All this at the same time that finally we're hearing Steve Schmidt: Sarah Palin has trouble with truth …Palin has not been held accountable for her behavior as the first former 'Lame Duck' of Alaska… Palin should be relegated to the garbage heap as a really bad idea…There is no intellectual honesty or integrity in Ailes or Murdock


  7. sjohnson
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 19:00:00

    She desperately needs psychiatric intervention, and it is sad that the people close to her are in denial about it. What a mess she is.


  8. Inside_Passage
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 15:39:00

    Since when does Fox News have any credibility? They already burned it with Glenn Beck.


  9. ken
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 19:09:00

    yea those 2 1/2 million people who watch daily are just loving those lie's,he has the second most watched news program in the country,and the rest of newscasters are jumping ship to join fox, they do real news,not state sponsered fluff.wake up your freedom is at stake…………


  10. Inside_Passage
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 08:16:00

    If my freedom is at stake, Glenn Beck is doing jack-squat to preserve it. Don't appeal to majority opinion, it does not impress me and it's downright dishonest on your part. Or do you expect me to believe that since at least 2.5M people are "socialist" Democrats I should take their word for it too?Don't assume credibility and popular perception are automatically the same thing. They have points in common, but they're not.


  11. Syrin from Wasilla
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 09:32:00

    Bravo- Well Said!


  12. ken
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 20:09:00

    are you this blind to whats going in in your country,beck is one of the few who are willing to stand up and say this emperor is wearing no cloths,some have been shot at some have been killed, but people like beck,rush,and coulter, keep looking at the marxist dictator from chicago and point out that he's not wearing any cloths,wake up to the socailist dictatorship people like syrup are trying to create,and fight for your freedom.before there are no more glenn becks left.


  13. ken
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 20:10:00

    like,you'd know the difference……….


  14. Inside_Passage
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 20:21:00

    Again, Beck is doing jack squat. Beck doesn't have the sand to stand up and state that the Emperor is wearing no clothes, he asks loaded questions that make everyone else say it for him, leaving him completely off the hook when he makes a mistake. That's pure cowardice, not having the guts to stand behind your own opinion. It's the difference between him and Limbaugh. At least Limbaugh has the guts to say it outright and stand behind it. Hell, I even have more respect for our local Vox'er "Ben" and that dude's a genocidal nutcase.As far as "Syrup" goes, you need to move to Alaska sometime, Ken. Then you will understand that there is a fundamentally different KINDS of conservatives. Some of them hate each other with a passion. While I consider the kind of conservatives Syrin holds the standard for no better than Palin, even I realize that there are different kinds of conservatives. (and before you whine, I don't like the liberals either)Wake up and realize that the world doesn't fit into two neat little categories, Ken. You're being deliberately dense and quite frankly, that kind of attitude does more to HURT your cause than it does to promote it. When you start attacking people who have ideology in common with you as the enemy, you come off as a rabid animal who cannot tolerate dissent.


  15. ken
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 21:42:00

    where have you been,did you miss the big flap over freedom of the press between fox and the white house,who do think the white house had in its sights,you know the guy who took down van jones,the guy that helped the start up of the tea party movement,the guy that played the acorn pimp and prostitute movies until the mass media decided they couldn't ignore it anymore,the first guy to call obama a racist.where have you been,rush is good but when beck gets going he doesn't report the news he makes it.other conservatives are astounded by his guts,the guy gets a hundred death threats a day,some of them from withen d.c.who else is on t.v. saying these things,not the big three,not the out and out marxists at msnbc,you need to get down on your knees and thank god for glenn beck,he saved american journalism from the obama socailists.


  16. Syrin from Wasilla
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 21:58:00

    .. I consider the kind of conservatives Syrin holds the standard for no better than Palin…. REALLY? And what ((KIND)) of conservative is that? .. Informed, competent and ethical? Don't like that huh?


  17. Inside_Passage
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 22:37:00

    One word: MurkowskiThe only thing Murkowski was competent at was nepotism, ripping off the taxpayers when he couldn't rip off the US government and making corrupt closed-door deals with the oil industry. Correct, I don't like that.


  18. Inside_Passage
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 22:39:00

    I'm assuming you're not Christian, or you wouldn't be blaspheming God by treating Beck as the messiah. That's as bad as these "Obama-is-the-next-Coming" idiots.If you are Christian, it's time to sit down and radically reassess your belief system, because you're defiling your own faith.


  19. Syrin from Wasilla
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 17:43:00

    You have some ill-conceived notions of government/business deals. I think the contract the legislature would not look at is still online…. So you base my ((kind)) of conservative on one person. YOU are no better than the whack jobs who worship Sarah.. Corrupt has a whole new meaning for you it seems. And a real hatred for anything Murkowski or is it oil industry. Shame.. History will have good things to say about Senator Frank Murkowski and Governor Frank Murkowski… Advice.. Get over it! Lisa is the best Senator Alaska has had. She's attentive to Alaska's issues and wants to make a positive difference for Alaska, not herself. She seems to be full of integrity and is articulate. She's the first born and raised Alaskan. I like that!


  20. ken
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 19:37:00

    for someone who demands proper english you seem to have comprehension problems….thank god for beck,not accept him as god,obama has clouded your reasoning..?????????????


  21. Inside_Passage
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 21:30:00

    I'm not an Obama-fan, Ken nor do I demand proper english, just that you make yourself comprehensible.God gave us the Messiah, Jesus Christ, his son. God did not give us Glenn Beck. Beck is not the Messiah. God is not the Messiah.


  22. Inside_Passage
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 21:44:00

    Syrin, I was using Murkowski as an example. He sums up everything wrong with people like you. As I recall, you held him in very high esteem, representing everything that was "right" and that Palin is not. If he does represent the other half, then the other half is just as bad as Palin.I don't hate the oil industry, I just hate its horribly two-faced attitude towards its relationship with the people of Alaska. They are either our partners or they are our competition. They cannot be both and they try to be. They do it for the bottom line, which is to be expected – they are a business. That's fine, they should start acting like a business and stop acting like Alaska owes them something. 1. Seeing someone as corrupt doesn't mean I hate them. I don't hate Murkowski any more than you hate Palin. Hatred is a waste of emotional energy. I consider him a corrupt political trash. Reasons:2. He tried to rip off the Federal Government by having them buy him a jet "to fight terrorism". When the Feds didn't buy it, he ripped off Alaska instead. Under the current Ethics Act, he'd have been shut down for it and rightly.3. Nepotism. I don't care if Lisa Murkowski is a goddess come to earth, the female Jesus of the political set. I like her too, she's a fine human being. What Frank did, however, is pure nepotism no matter his motivations. Completely unacceptable, and no place in government. He only got away with it because the same rule that every other state employee is forced to abide by regarding family doesn't seem to apply to the governor's position. Again, had the Ethics Act been in place, he'd have been shut down, and rightly.4. Trying to make secret deals with the oil industry, an industry that is demanding illegal and unconstitutional perks, behind closed doors does nothing to bolster his reputation. Don't tell me to let it rest, you're giving Palin (rightly) crap for making arrangements with the Canadians.You have no place to talk about me being anything like the "whack jobs that worship Palin" when you're one of the whack jobs that worship Murkowski. The man is corrupt, and he's down in "History" with proof. Unless they revise history to remove the inconvenient truths, he'll remain every bit as corrupt and more.


  23. ken
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 21:46:00

    i thank god for a lot of things,glenn becks on the top of the list right now…..gaypot….not so much..


  24. Inside_Passage
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 21:58:00

    Question: What the ???? is "Gaypot"?


  25. ken
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 22:09:00

    its part of the new liberal agenda,some states won't pass gay marriage,some states won't pass legal marijuana,so they're putting the two together to get more votes..get used to it, you'll be hearing it again…


  26. Syrin from Wasilla
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 22:53:00

    I see that reason has escaped you, again. I worship no one but Jesus Christ. Your list is ridiculous, the same old uninformed cliffnotes. You do not know what you are talking about…. Lisa was VOTED in on her own merits…. After the neopotism you're so offended by. Get over it!!!! The choice was better than a Palin. Weak, Weak, Weak…. I'm movin on, how bout you?


  27. Inside_Passage
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 23:16:00

    Syrin, are you really so slow that you can't follow a straight point-a to point-b conversation? I didn't suggest you got down on your knees and worshiped Murkowski, and you very well know that. Now, unless your dishonest enough to outright lie and state that people get down on their knees and WORSHIP Palin, then you know that what I said applies to you the same way it applies to them…. they follow Palin beyond what is rational or reasonable, just as you follow Murkowski the exact same way.Lisa was not voted into her position by Murkowski. She was appointed. She was not chosen by the voters. I am talking past tense, not present tense, and unlike what you suggest corruption is NOT water under the bridge. You won't tolerate past-tense corruption from Palin, and I won't accept it from Murkowski. Demanding one standard for one and a different one for another is hypocritical garbage, and beneath you. If you are going to hold to a standard of decency, then you cannot accept corruption for someone else. If you think corruption is unacceptable then you HAVE to reject Frank Murkowski the same way you do Palin. Otherwise you're just two-faced. The choice was not between Palin and Lisa. Lisa should not ever have BEEN a choice, had Frank been completely honest. Instead, he decided to play around with the system, and you refuse to even acknowledge that it was corrupt…. when forced to face that fact, you say get over it.If we're going to "get over it" why haven't you gotten over Palin yet? Right, because corruption is unacceptable, period. Past tense or present.


  28. Syrin from Wasilla
    Jan 17, 2010 @ 13:53:00

    …..If we're going to "get over it" why haven't you gotten over Palin yet?
    Wow, may I state something obvious? Frank Murkowski is not relevant to anything we've been talking about on this blog or is he in current public policy, I It was not unheard of to appoint a family member, the Gov of Alaska has that right, or to have while in negotiations with private business to close the flippin door to morons like you until that process is complete. Check out the final draft from that 'corrupt closed door' process that the SaRAH struck Ak legislature would not look at 4 years ago…Lisa Murkowski is currently serving honorably as a Senator being voted in by the majority of Alaskans. Murkowski was elected to a full six-year term when she ran against former Governor Tony Knowles.
    Oh yea, Sarah- well, NO, I'm not over 'IT"! She's still on currently the scene lying and corrupting the logic of just about every good idea out there. SaRah has gone national now! Frank- Not so Much!
    Tea Party, SarahPac, Facebook and now FOX.


  29. Inside_Passage
    Jan 17, 2010 @ 22:43:00

    Syrin, you can you be that willfully deaf and blind? Of course he is relevant, the conversation here is about conservative corruption. I brought him up because he was blatantly corrupt and surrounded himself by criminals, including his own chief of staff. I brought him up because he's one of those conservatives you're so proud of. Of course you're blogs not about him, it's about Palin. But we're not talking about the blog. TRY to stay on topic.1. You are wrong. It is completely unacceptable to appoint a family member. It is blatant nepotism and nepotism is in blatant violation of state regulations. You rattle on and on about Palin's violations of the Ethics Act, yet suggest that something so completely unethical is within his "rights"? Just because he can do it doesn't mean that it's right, ethical or within his rights. It simply means its legal. Corruption doesn't just mean breaking the law. Legally ripping off the taxpayers is corruption.2. By all means, link me to the final draft that Murkowski tried to get the oil industry to sign off on. To my understanding, it was never provided, because Murkowski lost reelection, and was trying to pull his scummy garbage in the final days of his term. Perhaps you're conveniently forgetting it wasn't just us "common folks" he was shutting out, he tried to shut out the Legislature as well, and had to be shut down from moving it further forward by legal means because he refused to discuss it with anyone. That's not within his rights, and that's why he was prevented from signing off.3. I'm not slamming Lisa Murkowski. She's fine, mostly. Frank, on the other hand, is a piece of corrupt scum.The fact that he's not on the national scene means nothing. He is one of your conservative heroes, and you are holding a corrupt person as the conservative ideal. I'm not going to get over it because there's absolutely no reason I should accept your argument that one kind of corruption is fine while another is not. If you're going to lay down with swine, stop being so shocked that someone would point out that you've got mud all over you.


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