11/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Karma! Did McCain's Own Loophole Buy The Clothes That Hurt His Campaign and Split His Party?

You know what they say about payback.

The clothes purchased by the RNC for Sarah Palin may turn out to be the final blow to the McCain campaign. If so, it will be poetic justice for the self-styled maverick who always tried to keep a card up his sleeve -- especially when it came to "reform." Because McCain stacked the deck for himself years ago, he may just have drawn a losing hand.

This flap is transforming Palin from a merely unpopular figure into a Marie Antoinette-like one. Republicans are falling all over themselves to blame each other. First Palin, for whom loyalty appears to be an unknown concept, blamed the RNC that purchased her wardrobe. (Did they force her to buy her little girl a Louis Vuitton bag, too? Really?)

And check out this video of RNC Chair Mike Duncan blaming the McCain campaign. Note how he deliberately uses the word "coordinated." He says: "This was a coordinated expense that the campaign asked us to pay for. It was entirely legal..."

There are serious questions about whether the clothing purchase was, in fact, "entirely legal." But if Duncan is referring to the legality of coordinating expenditures between a party's National Committee and its presidential candidate's campaign, he's probably right. It is legal -- thanks in no small part to John McCain.

Limitations on such coordinated expenditures had been in place for decades, until McCain gave the nod to lifting them. He helped attach a provision doing just that onto a bill covering 527s. As noted at the time, McCain wasn't just helping his own party with this move, since the RNC has historically always outraised the DNC. He was also helping his own expected candidacy.

McCain slipped the clutch on his "maverick" gear in order to benefit himself. It took a few more steps, but the long-standing ban on coordinating Committee expenditures with a campaign -- a practice rightly seen as a way to get around spending limits -- was finally eliminated. As a result, the candidate who sanctimoniously attacks Obama for bypassing public funding can take nearly $20 million of RNC money and spend it as he sees fit. That's in addition to the money he's getting from taxpayers.

Meanwhile, our intrepid Governor from Alaska insists that she"ll go back to wearing "consignment clothes" when this is over. (Is she saying she expects to lose? After all, you can't really wear pea coats or secondhand outfits to White House functions. Man, she really is off-message, isn't she?)

So, let's see: Because McCain didn't vet his own VP choice, she became an embarrassment. Because McCain allowed this loophole, he was able to have the RNC buy these clothes. Because the RNC bought these clothes, Palin -- his greatest liability -- became even more of a problem. Because Palin turned on the RNC, the RNC is striking back at the McCain campaign. And because of all the above, McCain's campaign is sinking even further and the party's even more badly split. (Watch that Duncan video, if you haven't already. This guy is pissed.)

Vetting ... integrity ... demanding accountability ... overruling your people when they bring you a bad idea ... and all the other executive actions that weren't taken by Sen. McCain ... That's called "leadership."

And being undone by a loophole you supported in order to benefit yourself? That's called "karma."

RJ Eskow blogs when he can at:

A Night Light
The Sentinel Effect: Healthcare Blog