It’s the perfect week for a political food fight, as Congress is out and many others in D.C. are on vacation. Jonathan Martin’s piece on the squabbling among former McCain campaign hands is sure to drive much of the political conversation for the rest of the week.
But the sniping between Steve Smith, Bill Kristol and Randy Scheunemann started in response to the Vanity Fair piece on Palin, which is “the story of a political novice with an intuitive feel for the temper of her times, a woman who saw her opportunities and coolly seized them,” writes Todd Purdum.
Of course, it says much more than that, much of it negative, painting a portrait of Palin as an ignorant, megalomaniacal, vindictive woman, which is what prompted the back-and-forth between Schmidt and Kristol.
But I asked one of the senior McCain campaign officials who worked closest with Palin what he thought of the article, by e-mail last night and then this morning over the phone. He e-mailed back immediately, calling the article “absolutely fascinating” and “completely riveting.”
“While the Palin camp is surely marshaling the torches and pitchforks and baying for blood by now, my hope is that somehow — against the odds — Palin is able to draw some sort of lesson out of all of this that helps her find a way to exist peacefully in the public space. It can’t be easy to spend every day under this kind of withering fire and I know that it is brutal on her family, who are generally good people that never asked for this,” the political operative wrote.
“You’d think that at some point, even Palin’s formidable armor of self-deception would so loudly clang against reality that she’d be forced to change. I doubt that though. Introspection doesn’t seem to be her strong-suit. But people can change. I hope she can too … for her sake and for our party’s.”
When I spoke by phone this morning with the same official, he said the VF article was not “contrived” and that it did, in fact, give an accurate portrayal of Palin.
“It’s more sad for me because I think she is a great political talent and could have a future or some sort of role, but she has these demons that she can’t shake, and I think it’s unfortunate she has this ability to disconnect herself from reality when things go wrong and she has this total lack of introspection,” he said.
There is a battle within the Republican Party right now, the operative said, over whether Palin is their future or not.
“I think there are a lot of people who want the party to be able to look past Sarah Palin because if we don’t, we’re going to be in trouble for a long time,” he said.
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times