“McCain Can’t Afford To Drop Sarah. They Won’t Let Him Anyway”

mccainpalin-copy.gifby Charley James —

Despite numerous calls from serious conservative columnists over the last week for John McCain to drop Sarah Palin from the Republican ticket, she’s not going anywhere regardless of her debate performance.

“She’s our lifeline to the money coming in from evangelicals and the far right,” says my contact at McCain headquarters in Virginia. “Without their cash, the campaign would be struggling to raise money. McCain can’t afford to drop Sarah.

“Don’t take this the wrong way but Palin is, well, she’s our cash cow,” he tells me, somewhat embarrassed at his awkward metaphor.

As I reported on September 26 and again on September 27, two sources inside the McCain campaign, and three inside Barack Obama’s, are providing me with information for a book I want to write after the election.

The McCain headquarters source is someone I’ve known for roughly 30 years and has been my interpreter of the conservative movement ever since. Along with a woman I dated centuries ago who works in a key swing state campaign office, I’ve had a unique, insider’s look at the McCain operation since the primaries.

“Besides, they won’t let him anyway. (Grover) Norquist, (James) Dobson, Roger Ayles, and Karl (Rove) would strangle McCain if he dumped her,” he confides. “Quiet word around here is they’re the ones who told McCain he couldn’t have Lieberman and pushed Palin on us.”

Say That Again?
Wait. This is news! John McCain did not choose his own vice presidential candidate?

Until now, the McCain campaign’s public posture is that McCain selected her based on a short meeting he had with her a year or two ago at a National Governor’s Assn. meeting and then summoned her to Arizona for the now-famous four hour chat. I beg my contact to let me use this piece of information now. Our ground rules are that nothing I am told can be published until after November 4, a rule that three of my contacts allowed me to bend slightly for last week’s two articles.

“Yeah, why not,” he agrees after a somewhat lengthy pause. “It can’t hurt us now anymore than everything else that’s happening.”

The four evil names rattle around in my head: Rove, Ayles, Dobson, and Norquist.

Finally, the choice of Palin makes some sense; not much, but some. Yet it was clear right from the start that McCain was doing somebody’s bidding in choosing an unknown lightweight governor to be his running mate. It turns out that the esteemed doyens of the right wingnut fringe of the Republican Party – Norquist and his once all-powerful “Americans For Tax Reform,” James Dobson’s hate-mongering “Focus On The Family,” Roger Ayles and his Republican talking point network Fox News, and Karl “Bush’s Brain” Rove – did the choosing. Talk about king makers or, in this case, queen makers. McCain managed to go through the motions of “interviewing” Palin but, apparently, he had as much say in the process as I did.

I ask my friend if this is rumor, an open secret or confirmed fact.

“It’s an open secret about a rumor that’s been rumbling around here for weeks,” he tells me somewhat vaguely. Then he adds an even more cryptic comment, “Would I go to Atlantic City with McCain and place a bet on it? Probably, but I’m not sure.”

The half-hearted joke referred to McCain’s fondness for high stakes casino gambling and his deep connections to casino lobbyists was revealed in several articles this week in The New York Times.

Gruesome Implications
I don’t put much stock in conspiracy theories but, if this one is true, it has truly gruesome implications for the country.

Assuming that McCain won’t live out his term, then Sarah Palin and her own, living, breathing handmaiden’s tale would become president. A Tabula Rosa on which the known and unknown manipulators of far right policies and politics would be able to write large their own vision of America – a vision that does not include anything close to mainstream political thought on either side of the political spectrum.

Compared to a Pres. Palin, by comparison George Bush would seem like a Renaissance man, a 21st century Thomas Jefferson.

Suddenly, Naomi Wolf’s draconian vision of the United States under another Republican president seems much more frighteningly real than it did yesterday.

True, there’ve always been insiders working the strings in American politics, starting with Mark Hannah in Ohio during the McKinley administration to New York City’s Tammany Hall and Harold Ickes to Arthur Goldberg. But they’ve always been mainstream people who generally had the country’s best interests at heart. Not in the history of the United States have a cabal of extremists gathered so much power inside a seemingly mainstream political party that they literally dictated to a party’s presidential nominee who would be his running mate simply because it suited their own, perverse end.

Merriam-Webster.com defines a maverick “an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party.” So much for McCain’s self-professed image of being a “maverick.” Nowhere in American history can I find a reference to a politician so craven that he allows his desire for the presidency to be bastardized – swallowed whole – by powerful fringe elements of his party.

charley-james.jpgThe news about how Sarah Palin came to be the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate is not just disturbing, it is terrifying. How did this happen in America? Hopefully, as the remaining days of the campaign slide past, enough Americans will shake their heads in disbelief at both McCain and Palin – each person having their own reason – and shout “Enough!” as they pull the Obama-Biden lever in the voting booth.

The Grand Old Party was founded by Abraham Lincoln. Somewhere, the nation’s greatest single president is weeping.

Charley James

If you’re born in Milwaukee, you are born a Democrat. And so I gravitated naturally to liberal politics, first as journalist and then an activist. I’ve been writing since I was eight years old and, after working in newsrooms for far too long, I have devoted much of the past decade as an independent investigtative jouralist. When not writing about politics or George Bush, I scribble out essays on the peculiarites of modern times.

Articles by Charley:


  1. sloop jon b. says

    McCain signed a confession to the viet cong, when he was in custody, he violeted the code of military conduct,when he only should gave name rank and service number. Amazing nobody brings this out. He should have been court martialed.

  2. Timeparticle says

    I wonder if she reads LA Progressive….I wonder if she reads any newspapers. Oh, that’s right… in her interview, she did mention that she read any and all newspapers… she really couldn’t name them but she knew that they were somewhere on her desk…”Those gosh-darn newspapers, where did they go and what were their names… Betcha I read them and threw them away…. don’t ya know. LA Progressive?…. Sounds like some Los Angeles gay, liberal…betcha I read it…. gosh darn questions…What was the question?”

    • says

      You’re right. She did tell Katie Couric that she “reads them all”. How does she find the time to govern, be a hockey mom, soccer mom and read everything that is written?

      She’s one awesome woman!

  3. DH says

    Could it be that we’ve been offered up the conservative idea of what an acceptable woman leader is: someone who isn’t sharp enough to do the job but is sharp enough to wink and flirt along the way and claim some divine right to the job? I think the last bastion of single threaded authority has offered us the token woman leader when a real one would have been too much for them to take! The era of marginalizing anyone who is not white and male is rapidly ending. For those in their 20s and younger, it will matter first what a person brings to the table — not their color, religion, or gender. Those older than 30 are just in varying degrees of awareness and ability to see clearly. Surprisingly for those who have held the entitled positions of power, the meltdown in the economy has been the final pivot point that will make it both necessary as well as possible to realize the American Dream is not about competition but must be about collaboration. Not about marginalizing but about maximizing the contributions of and for the people of this great country. The strengtt of our country is in our ability to face adversity and overcome it. Calling a spade a spade is a key requirement. So let us not be manipulated and placated. We want a leader who is capable of doing the job, not just a woman in office. Obama hit the jackpot when Sarah Palin turned out to be so unlike Hillary. If Sarah had been a fraction of the leader Hillary Cinton is, then McCain would have had a chance.

  4. Dixie Dawg says

    Very interesting article, Charley! I can’t wait for the book because I know that will be an electrifying read. After watching the debate tonight between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, I was completely overwhelmed at the continual “Dumbing Down of America”. Several of the cable news networks had “undecided” voters sitting in a studio “somewhere” listening to the debate. I was amazed at the people who thought that she re-energized the Republican Party and connected to the electorate.

    I have to admit, if I owned a company and needed a good sales person who could “BS” their way out of a brown paper bag, then Palin would get the job. If I needed someone who could “charm the socks off of a june bug and drive a poor lizard wild” (that’s a Southern saying), then Palin would be the one. However, if I needed an employee who understood the importance of facts and figures, who would answer questions directly and who would not redirect answers to irrelevant subject matter, then Palin would be sent home from the interview.

    During the debate, Sarah Palin would not only give vague answers or redirect questions, she did so in her “girlie-girl” flirtatious way, with a wink and a nod. All personality and absolutely no substance. People everywhere thought that she was ready for the Vice-Presidency and was confident that she would be a great national leader. Are people losing their ability to recognize the difference between personality and substance?

    Was it just me or did anyone else notice the Palin reference to “extra” Vice-Presidential powers in the Constitution? What was that about? Shades of Cheney? Was Karl Rove feeding her answers through a listening device in her ear? The last thing this country needs is another leader who is power-hungry and control-crazy.

    Even though I don’t support Obama and Biden, I have to admit that Joe Biden was a much better debater because he actually backed up his answers with statistics and historical fact as opposed to mindless “maverick” rhetoric. I can see a Sarah Palin Barbie Doll in Mattel’s future. You pull her string and she says, “John McCain is a maverick”.

    Due to this corrupt bailout package being shoved down our throats and due to our Treasury Secretary feeling the need to “prop up” his friends in the finance industry, this country may be in for some hard times. We need someone who actually understands what is going on with these economic bailouts and someone who understands foreign policy and diplomacy.

    In today’s political climate, wisdom and knowledge has been replaced by lipstick and arrogance. Knowledge and facts are overshadowed by charisma and one-liners. After a debate today, the media discussion is not about the issues brought to the table by the moderator, the discussion is about the candidate’s confidence and how long they spent in “debate camp”. Lipstick and one-liners won’t be a match for diplomacy skills and foreign policy knowledge if a nuke is pointed towards the United States. I just hope the “enthralled” and “brainwashed” wake up before it’s too late. By the way, can all of the media strategists go home now? They contribute nothing but fluff and ignorance to the cable news networks.

    This country is in a royal mess. We have been sold out by the big bankers and their greedy corporate interests. Part of the corrupt multi-billion dollar Bailout Plan is to bail out foreign entities, leaving a tax burden that will last for untold years. Iraq has become a quagmire of death and destruction and all we can do is concentrate on charisma measurements? God help us all.

    Celebrity has stolen the spotlight from factual presentations and life-changing legislation. So, what do we do when all hell breaks loose and the economy goes down the tubes? Oh, I know, call 1-800-MAVERICK. Press one for hockey mom, press two for pit bull and press three for the difference between the two. Yes, it’s these things that will turn a nuke the other way.

  5. Empress says

    I am very nervous about McCain’s pick for Vice. The recent interviews have raised these concerns.

    Personally, I think Sara should go home and raise her children. I would not want a “mother” having to choose between me and her children. And speaking of children, is the second teenage daughter pregnant? Her attire seems to suggest that she is “carrying”.

    What do we know about this?

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