Thursday, November 6, 2008

Let the Backbiting Begin

While Barack Obama is getting down to the business of putting together a transition team, the knives are out at the remnants of the McCain campaign, and they’re going after Sarah Palin.

The disputes between the campaigns centered in large part on the Republican National Committee’s $150,000 wardrobe for Ms. Palin and her family, but also on what McCain advisers considered Ms. Palin’s lack of preparation for her disastrous interview with Katie Couric of CBS News and her refusal to take advice from Mr. McCain’s campaign.

But behind those episodes may be a greater subtext: anger within the McCain camp that Ms. Palin harbored political ambitions beyond 2008.

As late as Tuesday night, a McCain adviser said, Ms. Palin was pushing to deliver her own speech just before Mr. McCain’s concession speech, even though vice-presidential nominees do not traditionally speak on election night. But Ms. Palin met up with Mr. McCain with text in hand. She was told no by Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, and Steve Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s top strategist.

Gossip is also leaking out that Ms. Palin was clueless about foreign affairs to the point that she didn’t know that Africa was a continent. That may be, but it also falls into the category of being the typical losing campaign tactic of trying to find a reason they lost other than the fact that they got beat by a better campaign or candidate. The talking point so far has been that the Wall Street collapse was to blame, but that isn’t going over so well, and the inevitable backbiting as in putting out stories that Ms. Palin was a diva and her family was like something out of The Beverly Hillbillies (to the point that someone in the McCain camp referred to them as “the Wasilla hillbillies”) is likely to draw more attention.

What it really comes down to is that after twenty months of pouring their heart and soul into winning the election and then seeing it all come to an end — and not a pleasant one — the folks in the McCain campaign are going through the grieving process: anger, bargaining, etc. You can expect to hear nasty stories from inside the campaign for a while, and they’ll continue to be of the petty and cranky variety.

Believe it or not, the people in the Obama campaign are feeling something of the same; after all their work, it’s over and there are a lot of people who are out of work and have to find something to do. Their loss, however, is tempered by the fact that they won.