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Posted by on Nov 18, 2009 in Politics | 49 comments

Blaming McCain for Palin?

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Andrew Sullivan reminds us all how Sarah Palin came to be driving the dialogue today:

[W]hat I didn’t fully come to terms with, until the Palin farce, was the full extent of John McCain’s recklessness and cynicism. This is worth keeping in mind through all this. The only reason we even know about Sarah Palin is John McCain.

Certainly McCain’s VP pick brought some sudden life to his campaign. And yes, it looked extremely cynical to me as well. But when Sullivan goes on to suggest that McCain should resign to atone for his sins, he totally loses me.

He picked her so carelessly, and his thought process was so cynical, that he should stand in the dock of public opinion before Palin does. Her vanity led her to say yes to his crazy offer. But he gave her that chance. And in the end, she is his responsibility. […]

If he had any sense of responsibility, he would resign. And if the Washington media had any sense of responsibility, it would never invite him on TV again without demanding he take responsibility for what he nearly did to the national security of this country. No one who put this person near the nuclear button should have a future in public life.

Myself, I’d say that McCain already paid a very high price for his Palin pick. I’ve long suspected that he might well have won the presidency with a less polarizing (and more prepared) choice. She was definitely a factor in my decision to vote for Obama, and I know I’m not alone.

However — while it’s fair to attribute Sarah Palin’s meteoric rise in the national consciousness to McCain, it’s really a bit off to go after him for the “almost” that wasn’t.

More interesting (to me), frankly, is the question of where the GOP base would be right now, had she not entered the dialogue. My guess is that they’d still be spinning their wheel in angst, with no centering point (other than, perhaps, some media figures) at all.

Palin has emerged as a leading voice for the disaffected conservative base — a base that includes the stringent classic conservatives as well as the social. But she didn’t invent them.

McCain’s choice was certainly cynical, but it wasn’t necessarily incorrect. And although I’m thoroughly dismayed by the direction they’re going, there was a good chance the Republicans were going down an ideological purity road anyway. There’s no use in blaming McCain.

For that matter, there’s no point in blaming Palin, either. This was a fire waiting for a spark, and it was bound to come from someplace.

The cartoon by Taylor Jones, El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico, is copyrighted and licensed to run on TMV. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. All rights reserved.