Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Staff Poorly Serving Palin

David Broder, while acknowledging Alaska governor Sarah Palin's strong performance at the vice-presidential debate last night, has a valid question for the McCain campaign. He asks, "Why in the world has the McCain campaign kept Palin under wraps from her debut at the Republican National Convention until this debate? What were they afraid of?"

It is stated frequently that vice-presidential candidates rarely have an ultimate impact on the presidential election, and this one may have been no different regardless of what the McCain campaign had done. Still, one can be excused for wondering. Gov. Palin's nomination and speech at the RNC brought an unprecedented level of energy for a vice-presidential pick. The failure of the campaign to capitalize on that energy, and the limited interviews they made her accessible for, gave the public the impression that she was likely not up to the task.

Gov. Palin is not a perfect candidate, and no one will ever accuse her of being a policy wonk on issues outside of energy and other matters of particular importance to Alaska. However, hardly any candidates for national office are really conversant to any level of detail on a wide range of issues, and Gov. Palin certainly has strengths that she brings to the table.

Agree or disagree with her: she is not incompetent. It is unfortunate that her limited availability along with the Gibson and Couric interviews caused the public to question her competence.

Gov. Palin was mismanaged by a staff who injected her too infrequently in the campaign with a strategy that didn't suit her strengths. Did that cost John McCain the election? No. Assuming he loses, it will be the state of the economy that ultimately sapped his brief surge of momentum. However, the mishandling of Gov. Palin certainly did not help.

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