To hear Brian Williams and Chuck Todd talk, as they did last night on Hardball, you'd think things were perhaps not so peachy these days over at Camp McCain, after they spent the afternoon interviewing John McCain and Sarah Palin together:
Well, Chris, and this something that I -- I wouldn't blame Brian for not wanting to say this, but -- there was a tenseness between -- first of all, between the two -- there's no chemistry. I couldn't see chemistry between John McCain and Sarah Palin. It was -- I felt as if we grabbed two people and said, 'Here, sit next to each other, we're going to conduct an interview.'
There wasn't -- they're not -- you know, they're not just ... comfortable with each other, uh, yet. The other thing about it is that you can tell they know that they're losing. They just have -- there's an intensity there, they're drained, the entire campaign staff is drained. The two candidates are guarded, they seem on edge. It's not as if they were rude or anything, it's not as if they weren't trying to be forthcoming, it's just, they seemed -- it's a negative intensity. I don't know how else to describe it.
But you'll see, when you see the two of them together, the chemistry's not all there. You do wonder, is John McCain starting to blame her for things, blaming himself? Is she blaming him? You just wonder what's going on inside their heads. Are they upset with how the other has treated them, and is that why her numbers are low? But whatever it is, it's a negative vibe that you get in that room.
This happens to echo the recent New Yorker piece (which Todd in fact cites a little later in the discussion), which described how much McCain wanted to name his favorite fellow Mavericky Senator, Holy Joe Lieberman himself, and as many of us suspected, strongly preferred Joe as his running mate:
By the spring, the McCain campaign had reportedly sent scouts to Alaska to start vetting Palin as a possible running mate. A week or so before McCain named her, however, sources close to the campaign say, McCain was intent on naming his fellow-senator Joe Lieberman, an independent, who left the Democratic Party in 2006. David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who is close to a number of McCain’s top aides, told me that “McCain and Lindsey Graham”—the South Carolina senator, who has been McCain’s closest campaign companion—“really wanted Joe.” But Keene believed that “McCain was scared off” in the final days, after warnings from his advisers that choosing Lieberman would ignite a contentious floor fight at the Convention, as social conservatives revolted against Lieberman for being, among other things, pro-choice.
“They took it away from him,” a longtime friend of McCain—who asked not to be identified, since the campaign has declined to discuss its selection process—said of the advisers. “He was furious. He was pissed. It wasn’t what he wanted.” Another friend disputed this, characterizing McCain’s mood as one of “understanding resignation.”
One can readily imagine the Mavericky One's disappointment -- not to mention Holy Joe's ... as well as the liberal blogosphere's. My, what fun that'd have been. With the added value that Joe no doubt would've helped McCain about as much as he helped Al Gore.
They kept fishing around long enough and came up with a hottie to run alongside the hero. Too bad the hottie turned out to be a complete know-nothing capable of making everyone forget those "McCain moments." Now McCain knows who to blame for that swirling toiletlike sound he hears at every turn: The idiots who told him to name Palin. And of course, Palin herself bears the brunt of this:
Palin initially provided the McCain campaign with a boost, but polls now suggest that she has become a liability. A top Republican close to the campaign said that McCain’s aides have largely kept faith with Palin. They have been impressed by her work ethic, and by what a quick study she is. According to the Republican close to the campaign, she has sometimes discomfited advisers by travelling with a big family entourage. “It kind of changes the dynamic of a meeting to have them all in the room,” he told me. John McCain’s comfort level with Palin is harder to gauge. In the view of the longtime McCain friend, “John’s personal comfort level is low with everyone right now. He’s angry. But it was his choice.”
Just imagine: If he'd been able to name Joe his running mate, he could just go out there and be John McCain and do his thing instead of being the victim of Dobson's Choice he's become.
Why, then he'd only be losing by 15 instead of 10.
[H/t to Heather for the video.]