The blockbuster story of this Sarah Palin debacle is that John McCain and his team simply didn’t vet this candidate. He only met her once, spoke with her once, and only now is there a GOP team on the ground combing through records to see what other skeletons are in her closet.
This ultimately doesn’t have anything to do with Palin — it’s about McCain’s judgment and fealty to the fringe element of his party. What does this say about his leadership? Do you want a man without impulse control leading this nation? (NYT):
Aides to Mr. McCain said they had a team on the ground in Alaska now to look more thoroughly into Ms. Palin’s background. A Republican with ties to the campaign said the team assigned to vet Ms. Palin in Alaska had not arrived there until Thursday, a day before Mr. McCain stunned the political world with his vice-presidential choice. The campaign was still calling Republican operatives as late as Sunday night asking them to go to Alaska to deal with the unexpected candidacy of Ms. Palin.
Although the McCain campaign said that Mr. McCain had known about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy before he asked her mother to join him on the ticket and that he did not consider it disqualifying, top aides were vague on Monday about how and when he had learned of the pregnancy, and from whom.
…At the least, Republicans close to the campaign said it was increasingly apparent that Ms. Palin had been selected as Mr. McCain’s running mate with more haste than McCain advisers initially described.
The crew of evangelicals McCain met with a couple of months ago wanted approval of this veep; it seems he didn’t take that threat seriously as he went to consider other choices, we learn that he got a severe smackdown. Here’s the confirmation that the fundies are in control of the ticket and the party as a whole — reporter Elisabeth Bumiller says McCain was thisclose to selecting either Tom Ridge or Holy Joe but there was a roar from the Dominionists that those two pro-choicers would have resulted in a floor fight.
Up until midweek last week, some 48 to 72 hours before Mr. McCain introduced Ms. Palin at a Friday rally in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. McCain was still holding out the hope that he could choose a good friend, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, a Republican close to the campaign said. Mr. McCain had also been interested in another favorite, former Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.
But both men favor abortion rights, anathema to the Christian conservatives who make up a crucial base of the Republican Party. As word leaked out that Mr. McCain was seriously considering the men, the campaign was bombarded by outrage from influential conservatives who predicted an explosive floor fight at the convention and vowed rejection of Mr. Ridge or Mr. Lieberman by the delegates.
If you read the rest of the article, it’s also clear that no one was prepared for the drip-drip of stories (the pregnant unwed teen, Troopergate) so far.