12/01/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Burning Down the House - McCain and Palin Go Down in a Blaze of In-Fighting, Betrayal and Backstabbing

Many people ask if Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has a future - possibly a presidential run in 2012 - if she loses this election. The answer is no. She really isn't that bright, folks. If she couldn't cram her head with knowledge in 44 years of living, trying harder in the next four years won't make her a Rhodes scholar. It'll just give her a headache.

Meanwhile, most people assume this presidential campaign is John McCain's swan song. The answer betcha.

Age of a Querulous

McCain, who is often cited for his impulsive temperament, seems to be releasing his inner peevishness in the closing days of the presidential race. Everything Obama or Biden says of late appears to get his goat. Like a cantankerous old man, he feels the need to complain. He's even picking up odd characters like "Joe the Plumber" along the way to help him fight the good fight. Instead of going gently and with dignity into that good night, he is flailing away at his presidential rivals, accusing them of everything under the sun. Depending on the day of the week, Obama has been labeled a terrorist, a communist, a socialist, an enemy of Israel, even possibly being a white man in disguise.

No rock is left unturned, no comment is left in context as McCain hunts out potentially explosive remarks from Biden or Obama that could be turned against them - regardless of when and under what circumstances they were uttered, or if they actually referred to what the McCain camp insists they refer to.

As a result, like the boy who cried wolf once too often, the media has grown bemusedly cynical of McCain's efforts to catch Obama or Biden in a slip of the tongue or associating with dubious characters. McCain's last, best shot was his labeling Obama an "elitist" some months ago, referring to Obama's comments at a fundraiser. However, when McCain "took offense" to Obama's "lipstick on a pig" remark recently (insisting it was a slur against his VP running mate), it hardly registered a blip on the dial. His continued attack on Obama's past association with '60s radical William Ayers merely draws yawns.

More disturbing, heading toward what appears to be certain defeat at the polls, McCain seems hell-bent on taking down the White House and the entire Republican political party with him. Trying to prove he's no George Bush, he has called out the Republican's most visible and influential member on his failed economic policies; his failed energy policy, his missteps in Iraq, and his doubling of the national debt. True, McCain and Bush have not always been the best of friends, but it's not very Republican of McCain to throw his colleague under the bus at this point in the game. Bush, after all, was nice enough to call McCain a man who is "honest and speaks straight from the heart," via satellite at the Republican National Convention.

McCain and Palin also shoved overboard - rather quickly - Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens following his felony convictions, chiming in (unasked) that Stevens should resign immediately. God help any other Republican who should find himself in a spot of trouble between now and election day. McCain will rip them apart like a pit bull on steroids.

That is, of course, the mavericky thing to do - adamantly criticize members of your own party - but that's not sitting very well with all the Republicans who are currently running for re-election. They're not too thrilled to know that McCain and Palin keep stepping over their still-warm (but quickly dying) bodies to get to the White House. They're turning away from McCain in disgust, with many throwing their support to Obama. Prominent Republicans like former Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland is the latest; before that, it was former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Obama has also received endorsements from former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, and previous Bush press secretary, Scott McClellan. It is doubtful McCain will have many friends when he returns to Washington if he loses the election.

A Tale of Two Palins

Sarah Palin, meanwhile, appears to be taking matters into her own hand, seeing that once-glorious possibility of the VP nametag quickly slipping away. Like a rebellious child, she has been breaking away from her handlers on the campaign trail and chatting up reporters, trying to prove she's her own person. She doesn't deny aspirations for the White House in 2012. Apparently channeling her inner medieval princess, she admits that she isn't "doing this for naught." Forsooth! Most voters don't think she's qualified to be vice president today, but she's convinced they'll think her qualified to be President in 2012.

Within the McCain camp, her supporters claim that she has always disliked how she was sequestered from the press, following her acceptance speech. They complain that Republicans didn't let her "be Sarah" and prove to the world she was ready to lead the country. They dismiss her few, disastrous interviews as "gotcha journalism," and again blame McCain's group for setting her up. Pit bulls are notorious for biting the hand that feeds them, especially when they're hungry.

Others inside the McCain camp, however, call her a diva and a "whack job." Polls reveal that voter disenchantment with her is a drag on the McCain ticket and is bringing down other Republicans running for office. Her divisive campaigning has also cost her a lot of her popularity back in Alaska.

Palin doesn't see those things - or rather, dismisses them as nonsense. All the recent articles about how she can be a viable presidential candidate in 2012 are going to her head. Like the typical Academy Award winning actress, she has begun to believe that she really is the character she plays on the screen. Never mind that all her speeches and "policy positions" are completely scripted for her. If she says all those brilliant things and utters those zingers against her opponents that get the crowds so worked up, well, she must really be that bright and that much of a charismatic force in politics.

For Palin, it's all about those fanatical crowds showering her with adulation; all that applause; all that love! She's got 30 million evangelical and fundamentalist Christians in her pocket, so don't mess with her. That's almost twice as many supporters as Sen. Hillary Clinton ever got.

Actually, she might do well to learn a lesson from another famous person who walked into Jerusalem more than two thousand years ago to the wild and frantic cheering of thousands of people. Those same people crucified him several days later. Just as Palin's adoring fans are quick to boo and shout, "Kill Obama," they will be just as quick to condemn her, should they ever feel she has betrayed them. They are an easily offended bunch. They are already booing McCain because they feel he is not attacking Obama with enough gusto.

Judging from her few unscripted moments, Palin also has a tendency to put her foot in her mouth, such as saying that small town folks are the real Americans (implying big-city folks are not). She has already experienced her shares of boos for various reasons, revealing that she is beginning to wear out her welcome.

Voters, on your mark.