Well.... it looks like Mad Johnny's campaign meltdown is accelerating as we head in to the final seven days(!) of the campaign. As if it wasn't bad enough that the longest serving Republican Senator, Ted Stevens from Sarah Palin's home state of Alaska, was convicted on 7 felony corruption charges, Sarah Palin seems to have gone rogue.
Reports have been surfacing in the media news outlets about Palin straying "off-message" in her public statements, and saying things that are out-and-out detrimental to the message that the McCain campaign is trying to cobble together.
After it came to light that Palin's Republican National Committee handlers spent $150K on her campaign wardrobe, the media spent much air time speculating on the impact that this unfortunate disclosure would have on the public at large. This was especially embarrassing for McCain, because the revelation occurred at the very time that McCain was trying to manufacture some kind of blue-collar empathy via his "Joe the Plumber" meme.
The McCain campaign did its best to put the story behind it and sent instructions to Palin not to say anything more about the wardrobe controversy. But Palin ignored those instructions and seemed to defend herself by making the following statement in Tampa, Florida:
"Those clothes, they are not my property. Just like the lighting and the staging and everything else that the RNC purchased, I'm not taking them with me."(Taking them with you, Sarah? Why? Wherever would you be going?) A Palin aide later said that she felt compelled to defend herself, because "that's really not who she is."
Of course, all along Palin has had trouble sticking with the official McCain campaign line (to the extent that such exists). Remember earlier in the month, when McCain criticized Junior's decision to remove North Korea from the list of "state sponsors of terrorism?" Palin, apparently unaware of the campaign's statement, said of the decision "I have faith... that [Bush officials] are making this wise decision."
But Palin's most recent comments, the comments defending her wardrobe, seem a bit less ignorant and a bit more calculating, yes? It's as if she's decided that she needs to do something to salvage her own career from the electoral disaster that many believe will occur next Tuesday. And the McCain people, in keeping with the example set by their mad-with-rage leader, have reacted with nastiness. According to a McCain adviser:
"[Palin] is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone. She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."(But, doesn't that just make her a "maverick?")
This rift between Johnny and Sarah has been brewing for a while. Last week, MSNBC's Chuck Todd commented that, during a joint interview with McCain and Palin, there seemed to be no cohesion or chemistry between the two of them. Todd hinted that there was some resentment between the two candidates, as if each blamed the other for their mutual predicament.
As we approach Election Day it will be simply delicious to watch as the finger-pointing and every-[wo]man-for-himself behavior increases. The list of Republican mucky-mucks that have already jumped ship is long indeed: David Brooks, Peggy Noonan, Colin Powell, Chuck Hagel, David Frum... Look for this list to grow longer as we approach Judgment Day.
It seems that Republicans, at least, are convinced that Obama will be swept into the White House on a Democratic tidal wave that decimates the ranks of the Republican caucuses in both Congressional houses. Palin and Mitt Romney are already angling for position in the post-election struggle to lead the party.
But, if the looming disaster is as bad as I imagine it might be, the struggle for succession in the post-Bush GOP will be akin to a fight between rats over the last scrap of food on a sinking ship.
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