Judging by the treatment Sarah Palin is receiving from the media, a casual observer could be forgiven for assuming that she is the candidate for president and John McCain is her running mate. Wednesday evening she arrived back in her home state of Alaska and all three cable news networks interrupted their programming to air her remarks to an adoring crowd. That’s funny, because I don’t recall the media dropping everything and rushing to Wilmington, Delaware to capture the live broadcast of Joe Biden’s homecoming.
Virtually every report from the Republican campaign trail is about Palin. McCain has become an appendage to whom little attention is paid except to inquire as to how awesome it is to be with Sarah. All anybody is talking about is pigs, lipstick, and mooseburgers. There is very little public discussion of … um, what do you call them … oh yeah, “issues.” This is no accident. The McCain team has finally figured out a way to avoid substance entirely and keep their elderly candidate from getting fatigued. Just give the spotlight to Palin and let her tap dance around the country while McCain catches forty winks in the wings.
A lot has been made (by me) of Palin’s stonewalling of the press. It has been 13 days since she was selected to join McCain and she has still not had a press conference or sat for an interview with a reporter. My Palin Watch widget is documenting how long she is dodging the media. She is scheduled to end that streak with an interview by Charlie Gibson this week. But lost in the shuffle is that McCain himself is nearly as evasive as Palin. Since July 27 (45 days), McCain has appeared only twice on a national news program. That’s a remarkable turnaround for a man who has set records for media whoring.
Palin’s new status as a celebrity pol is confirmed by the attention she is getting from inside the campaign Wurlitzer. She is now attended to by a high-level crew of former Bush, and current McCain, cronies. The cast includes:
- Taylor Griffin – Bush campaign aide.
- Tracey Schmitt – Bush campaign aide.
- Tucker Eskew – Bush campaign aide.
- Steve Biegun – Bush National Security Council.
- Mark Wallace – Bush deputy campaign manager.
- Nicolle Wallace – Bush/McCain communications director.
- Douglas Holtz-Eakin – McCain economic adviser.
- Randy Scheunemann – McCain senior foreign-policy adviser.
- Joe Donoghue – McCain Senate aide.
Talk about “just more of the same…” This contingent of familiar handlers is busily preparing Palin for her get together with Gibson. They traveled to Fairbanks with her this evening and are expected to be drilling her non-stop (get your minds out of the gutter) for her debut encounter with the national media. It seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a not particularly ominous interrogator like Gibson. Either she aces this test or the speculation that she is a lightweight, insufficiently vetted, politically convenient, ideologically eccentric character from Bizarro World, will be forever burned into the public mind – if it’s not too late already.