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Richard Gizbert

Richard Gizbert

Posted: September 1, 2008 03:48 PM

Sarah Palin: Thomas Eagleton, the Sequel


I'm going to break a self imposed rule, the one that says always allow breaking news to settle before deciding what it actually means.

Allow me to predict that, within the next week or so, Sarah Palin will withdraw from the Republican ticket.

She will become the new Thomas Eagleton.

Eagleton was the former US senator from Missouri who was briefly part of George McGovern's ticket in 1972, before it was revealed that he had undergone electro-shock therapy treatments to deal with "physical and nervous" exhaustion. After that news broke, Eagleton quit the ticket and was replaced by Sargent Shriver. Nixon won in a walk.

When she pulls out, Ms. Palin will say that she was wrong to accept John McCain's offer. She will tell Alaskans and the rest of America that her 17 year old daughter, Bristol, five months pregnant, needs her mother right now.

None of that will be untrue. But there are other factors that will undoubtedly affect Palin's decision.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Sarah Palin is a victim of the failure of the McCain campaign to properly vet her as a candidate.

If Palin didn't know that last Friday, she knows it now.

Had McCain's people done the diligence, they would have known her home state's newspapers don't just question Palin's qualifications for the job, they deride them.

They would have realized that the troopergate story is real and will prove damaging. When the drip-drip-dripping finally stops, Madame Governor will have to own up to the emails and admit that, not only did she improperly interfere in the investigation of an ex-brother-in law, but she failed to come clean about it more than once.

Any investigators worth their salt would have concluded that Palin actually supported Alaska's bridge to nowhere, before she opposed it. That damages her image as McCain's reformer/soulmate, which is critical to her appeal.

And they would have heard that sound file of the incident with the talk radio hosts, in which Palin laughs when a political opponent of hers, a recovering cancer patient, was called a bitch and a cancer. That tarnishes the gloss even further.

But what hurts Palin's candidacy more than anything else is the breaking news about her daughter.

It hurts because Sarah Palin was a bone John McCain threw at the Republican right.

He had problems with evangelicals and thought she could help him there. And, for a news cycle or two, it worked.

But what are the evangelicals thinking now? A teen pregnancy for a prospective vice-president's unmarried daughter?

Even though some will say the decision to keep the baby is consistent with their beliefs on abortion, it's still not the news they want to hear.

Evangelicals are socially conservative. How many of them are calling members of their congregations today, asking whether this kind of thing would have happened had Sarah Palin given up her career to be there for her children?

The Bristol story won't necessarily damage Republican prospects with The Hillary Girls, who McCain also tried to woo by picking Palin.

But only the most gender-militant, Obama-hating Hilary Girl would have considered voting for this republican ticket anyway. Palin's opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, was always going to be a deal-breaker there.

Add it up, because that's what they're doing at the McCain headquarters right now: Palin's lack of qualifications + McCain's age and history of skin cancer + troopergate + the bridge + the radio incident + the unmarried, pregnant teenage daughter.

And you know there's more coming, because the real vetting has just begun.

Then consider: what does Sarah Palin, the woman we know today, as opposed to the one McCain introduced last Friday, actually bring to this ticket?

To me, someone who's old enough to remember the '72 campaign, it's looking more and more like Thomas Eagleton: The Sequel.

It's looking more and more like McCain/Pawlenty, or McCain/Romney '08.

Read more reaction from HuffPost bloggers to John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate