Last night, a friend chastised me for being so credulous to as to believe Sarah Palin is really as dumb as some McCain staffers are now portraying her—i.e. unsure about what nations are in NAFTA or that Africa is a continent and not a country.
“Brad, Brad, Brad,” she wrote, “believing crazy sh—from anonymous sources that is ON ITS FACE clearly made-up?”
This went on and on, with her making relevant points and me being a bit irreverent. I told her she had a case, but that she’s in Washington and I haven’t been on a government beat in three years, so my agenda radar was a bit off in the aftermath of a horrible presidential campaign. Still, I wasn’t convinced that Palin knew Africa was a continent or, for that matter, what continent Russia belongs to. (That’s a trick question.)
“Did you see her on Katie Couric?” I asked. “I would seriously believe any combination of words could have come out of her mouth.”
Today, though, my friend sent me this story, which pretty much won me over completely. It’s from Politico’s inestimable Ben Smith, and it’s two weeks ahead of the curve:
Anger among Republicans who see Palin as a star and as a potential future leader has boiled over because, they say, they see other senior McCain aides preparing to blame her in the event he is defeated.
“These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves,” a McCain insider said, referring to McCain’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, and to Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush aide who has taken a lead role in Palin’s campaign. Palin’s partisans blame Wallace, in particular, for Palin’s avoiding of the media for days and then giving a high-stakes interview to CBS News’ Katie Couric, the sometimes painful content of which the campaign allowed to be parceled out over a week.
“A number of Gov. Palin’s staff have not had her best interests at heart, and they have not had the campaign’s best interests at heart,” the McCain insider fumed, noting that Wallace left an executive job at CBS to join the campaign.
Wallace declined to engage publicly in the finger-pointing that has consumed the campaign in the final weeks.
“I am in awe of [Palin’s] strength under constant fire by the media,” she said in an e-mail. “If someone wants to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most graceful thing to do is to lie there.”
In other words, don’t dismiss the claims. They could very well be true. But—like journalists should always do when quoting sources with agendas, and everyone has an agenda—they should be taken with a grain of salt.
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