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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

As Palin has piled misstep on top of misstep, the senior members of McCain’s campaign team have undergone a painful odyssey of their own. In recent rounds of long conversations, most made it clear that they suffer a kind of survivor’s guilt: they can’t quite believe that for two frantic months last fall, caught in a Bermuda Triangle of a campaign, they worked their tails off to try to elect as vice president of the United States someone who, by mid-October, they believed for certain was nowhere near ready for the job, and might never be. They quietly ponder the nightmare they lived through. Do they ever ask, What were we thinking? “Oh, yeah, oh, yeah,” one longtime McCain friend told me with a rueful chuckle. “You nailed it.” Another key McCain aide summed up his attitude this way: “I guess it’s sort of shifted,” he said. “I always wanted to tell myself the best-case story about her.” Even now, he said, “I don’t want to get too negative.” Then he added, “I think, as I’ve evaluated it, I think some of my worst fears … the after-election events have confirmed that her more negative aspects may have been there … ” His voice trailed off. “I saw her as a raw talent. Raw, but a talent. I hoped she could become better.”
Lots of attention being paid today to Vanity Fair's gossipy anti-Palin hit piece, in which the same McCain staffers who insisted she was the second-best possible person for the presidency now (anonymously) admit she was a "Little Shop of Horrors" and alternatively call her a "diva," egomaniac, and "whackjob". Here's Bill Kristol with some pushback, and it's worth noting that this sort of negative media attention doesn't exactly hurt the martyr complex that fuels Palinmania on the right.

Who among us can wait for 2012?