The Owls and the Pussycat

I recommend this article by Jane Mayer in the current New Yorker on how Palin was chosen to be VP.  It reveals that she was chosen more or less because a small boatful (literally) of conservative Beltway policy-wonk nerds thought, on the basis of one lunch, that she was charismatic and hot.  It all reminds me of that Edward Lear poem: the Owls and the Pussycat, at sea with a honey and plenty of money, of course.  In this Lear drawing, imagine William Kristol as the owl.

Shortly after taking office, Palin received two memos from Paulette Simpson, the Alaska Federation of Republican Women leader, noting that two prominent conservative magazines—The Weekly Standard, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, and National Review, founded by William F. Buckley, Jr.—were planning luxury cruises to Alaska in the summer of 2007, which would make stops in Juneau. Writers and editors from these publications had been enlisted to deliver lectures to politically minded vacationers. “The Governor was more than happy to meet these guys,” Joe Balash, a special staff assistant to Palin, recalled.

On June 18, 2007, the first group disembarked in Juneau from the Holland America Line’s M.S. Oosterdam, and went to the governor’s mansion, a white wooden Colonial house with six two-story columns, for lunch. The contingent featured three of The Weekly Standard s top writers: William Kristol, the magazine’s Washington-based editor, who is also an Op-Ed columnist for the Times and a regular commentator on “Fox News Sunday”; Fred Barnes, the magazine’s executive editor and the co-host of “The Beltway Boys,” a political talk show on Fox News; and Michael Gerson, the former chief speechwriter for President Bush and a Washington Post columnist.

…Fred Barnes recalled being “struck by how smart Palin was, and how unusually confident. Maybe because she had been a beauty queen, and a star athlete, and succeeded at almost everything she had done.” It didn’t escape his notice, too, that she was “exceptionally pretty.”… Barnes was dazzled by Palin’s handling of the hundred or so mineworkers who gathered to meet the group. “She clearly was not intimidated by crowds—or men!” he said. “She’s got real star quality.”  By the time the Weekly Standard pundits returned to the cruise ship, Paulette Simpson said, “they were very enamored of her.” In July, 2007, Barnes wrote the first major national article spotlighting Palin, titled “The Most Popular Governor,” for The Weekly Standard. Simpson said, “That first article was the result of having lunch.”

…The other journalists who met Palin offered similarly effusive praise: Michael Gerson called her “a mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc.” The most ardent promoter, however, was Kristol, and his enthusiasm became the talk of Alaska’s political circles…. The next day, however, Kristol was still talking about Palin on Fox. “She could be both an effective Vice-Presidential candidate and an effective President,” he said. “She’s young, energetic.” … On July 22nd, again on Fox, Kristol referred to Palin as “my heartthrob.” He declared, “I don’t know if I can make it through the next three months without her on the ticket.”

Soon after, a second boat of wonks showed up in Juneau for a taste of Alaskan hospitality.

On August 1, 2007, a few weeks after the Weekly Standard cruise departed from Juneau, Palin hosted a second boatload of pundits, this time from a cruise featuring associates of National Review….Hanson, the historian, recalled Palin in high heels, “walking around this big Victorian house with rough Alaska floors, saying, ‘Hi, I’m Sarah.’ ” She was “striking,” he said. “She has that aura that Clinton, Reagan, and Jack Kennedy had—magnetism that comes through much more strongly when you’re in the same room.”… Jay Nordlinger, a senior editor at National Review, had a more elemental response. In an online column, he described Palin as “a former beauty-pageant contestant, and a real honey, too. Am I allowed to say that? Probably not, but too bad.”

It’s just kind of amazing how evident these nerds’ sexual attraction to Palin is — it’s more text than subtext.  So bizarre and shocking how little was known about her beyond her “charisma” and impeccable conservative ideology.

Andrew Sullivan has a good post today:

My view is that after the McCain peeps had made that crazy decision and realized after the fact what they had on their hands, they put their best face on it. They knew that the normal rules for a veep – a press conference, full media accessibility, airing of all the biographical details – would have required the candidate to quit before November. So they tried to shield her from actual democracy – a dangerous decision for the rest of us, but a rational, cynical decision for a campaign running a delusional liar as the potential next president of the US. Palin of course, lives in her own little, somewhat nutty, world and now believes her manifest destiny has been thwarted.

It’s a massive, unmissable clusterfuck and has been for two months. They just can’t hide it any longer. And the pick is a devastating one – because it basically destroys John McCain’s credibility as a presidential decision-maker. His first major decision as a future president is one of the worst in American political history. That alone should be enough to seal his fate next Tuesday. You need nothing else.

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