Why the Press Claims, Falsely, that Sarah Palin Wasn’t Vetted: Because Unlike You, They Don’t Read Beldar, So They Got Surprised by the Pick. And They Don’t Like Being Surprised.
I think I know exactly why we’re hearing all this utter nonsense about how Palin supposedly wasn’t vetted.
The spoiled little children in the media are throwing a widdle tantrum because they weren’t kept in the loop.
So if they didn’t know anything about Sarah Palin, and if they didn’t expect McCain to pick Palin, then it stands to reason that McCain didn’t know anything about Sarah Palin, and McCain didn’t expect himself to pick her.
Guess what, media? Some of us had heard of Sarah Palin before, and were hoping that she was exactly who John McCain would pick.
Back in June, Beldar had a prescient post in which he said: “I’ve spent several hours now reading about, and watching video clips of, 44-year-old Alaska governor Sarah Heath Palin.” I linked that post and tossed off the obvious cheap jokes that that line invites, given that Beldar is a middle-aged guy talking about spending hours watching clips of an attractive middle-aged woman.
But beneath the gentle ribbing, I linked that post for a genuine reason: I read what Beldar had to say, and I, too, was impressed.
I was impressed by the story of a person who courageously took on the entrenched political establishment in Alaska, at risk to her own political career — and won, and became enormously popular. I was impressed by the story of someone who seemed to be a political success, yet comes from a slice of middle America, as opposed to the moneyed elite from which most politicians spring. (I still think this aspect of her story is going to prove to be enormously powerful, in a way few expect. Americans will relate to Sarah Palin.) I was excited by the idea of someone who could bring life to a tired Republican ticket.
Back in July, I met someone who had worked with Romney closely when he was governor. This person had given money to McCain’s campaign. He told me he thought Romney was a fraud.
“So who do you think should be the VP nominee?” I asked. He said he thought Lieberman would really shake things up. He asked me the same question.
“Sarah Palin,” I said. “No doubt about it. In my opinion, she’s McCain’s only chance to win. McCain he won’t be smart enough to pick her. But she would be the ideal pick.”
My friend hadn’t heard of Palin. But readers of Beldar had. And readers of my site had.
So when I was on vacation, woke up in Curry Village at Yosemite, fired up the Treo, and saw that McCain had picked Palin, I was thrilled.
But at the same time, most of the press was saying: “Huh? Who dat?” To their detriment, they don’t read Beldar. So while you and I and Beldar were immediately rejoicing, the press corps — which considers itself the ultimate insiders — felt left out in the cold.
You see, McCain had valued secrecy so much, he didn’t let a trusted circle of journalists in on the pick.
And now they’re pissed off.
The unhinged bleating from the likes of Power-Glutes Sullivan is nothing but a reflection of the outrage felt by this self-appointed group of insiders at being kept outside the tent during the process.
There is no evidence that the vetting was actually light in any significant sense.
Yesterday the Washington Post ran a detailed article about the vetting process. The splashy headline is Aides Say Team Interviewed Palin Late in the Process. But if you read the whole thing, you learn that the vetting process was by no means lightweight:
The search process started in the spring. McCain’s vetting team was given a list of 20 names and Culvahouse’s group prepared lengthy background books on each candidate, based primarily on a search of public records. Ultimately, the list of 20 was pared to six serious finalists, then to two, and finally to Palin. According to several campaign sources, Palin was on the list from the start.
“Culvahouse” is A.B. Culvahouse, who “knows how to vet,” according to Jan Crawford Greenburg. Greenburg says Culvahouse participated in vetting Supreme Court nominees in the Reagan administration, and after he got burned by the marijuana revelations of Douglas Ginsburg, he developed an unbelievably detailed series of inquiries, which he first applied to Anthony Kennedy. Greenburg gives graphic details of the sorts of questions Culvahouse would ask:
After Ginsburg was forced to withdraw in 1988, Culvahouse subjected the next nominee–federal appeals court Judge Anthony Kennedy–to several hundred intrusive, deeply personal, cringe-inducing questions, focusing largely on sex, drugs and money. Did you have sex in junior high? High school? College? If so, how many different partners? Where? Did you use contraception? Were there any pregnancies? Any abortions? Did you contract venereal disease? Ever engage in any aberrational sexual activity? Has your wife ever had an abortion? Have the two of you engaged in “kinky sex?”
These were all actual questions posed to a nominee to the Supreme Court. And after all the detailed questions about mental health and drugs and money–and weird inquiries like, “have you ever engaged in cruelty to animals,” there were big catch-alls. Culvahouse and the legal team asked Kennedy what was the most unpleasant or embarrassing thing that ever happened to him in high school. In college. In law school. As an adult. Then they turned to his family. What are the answers for your wife to the questions asked of you? For your children? Your siblings?
Those types of questions, if put to Palin, would have turned up things like her teenaged daughter’s pregnancy and her husband’s DUI. The campaign says it knew these things.
The Washington Post article agrees, and provides details on when these items were disclosed.
McCain officials said that questionnaire and the personal interview revealed three new facts previously unknown to the team: Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy, the arrest of her husband two decades ago for driving while intoxicated, and a fine Palin paid for fishing without proper identification.
“We made a political determination that the American people would not object to a female candidate with a 17-year-old daughter who was pregnant,” Schmidt said Tuesday. “We believed that parents all over America would understand that life happens. The team made a recommendation to the senator that these issues were not disqualifying.”
I think that’s a perfectly reasonable decision — and once the American public sees that Sarah Palin is a quick-witted and highly competent individual, I think there will be a huge backlash against the sorts of attacks we’ve seen over the past weekend and since.
The WaPo article makes it clear that the McCain camp knew all along that it would be making the final decision in the two weeks or so after Obama made his selection, and that those weeks would be “frantic” no matter what. But Palin was on the list from the beginning, and the campaign had detailed information about her. She was perfectly forthcoming about everything that has emerged, and there is not a shred of evidence that McCain’s camp was caught flat-footed by any of the so-called “revelations” that have come out.
What you’re seeing is a press corps that got surprised. These Professional Journalists don’t like being surprised, and they’re throwing a little hissy fit about it. That fit is emerging in the form of attacks on the vetting.
Guys, next time, read Beldar. You won’t be caught so flat-footed.