As I mentioned before, I’m starting to read the McCain book that is the closest equivalent to the Obama book I was reading last week. And on the very first page, I ran across this. In fact, it’s the second paragraph in the preface:
I have spent much of my life choosing my own attitude, often carelessly, often for no better reason than to indulge a conceit. In those instances, my acts of self-determination were mistakes, some of which did no lasting harm, and serve now only to embarrass, and occasionally amuse, the old man who recalls them. Others I deeply regret.
One such indulgence of a conceit that he will regret is choosing Sarah Palin, because I believe that decision lost the election for him. It didn’t turn ME against him, but it did a lot of people.
I’ve struggled for words to explain the aspect of John McCain’s character that caused him, after his party rebelled over his preferred candidate (my man Joe) to choose Sarah Palin. I’ve used the term "fit of pique," but that didn’t describe it. In a recent column, I tried to explain it this way:
Second, as much as I admire and respect John McCain, and have for years, I was not enchanted by his choice. It was like, If I can’t have Joe Lieberman, I don’t care WHO it is; if this is what the base wants, they can have her. Which is not a good way to pick a potential future president.
But that didn’t quite state it either. But I think the above paragraph from his book did.
Choosing Joe Lieberman would have been an assertion of everything that is the best in John McCain. But when he couldn’t go with Joe (or decided he couldn’t, rightly or wrongly), he "chose an attitude" that was ironic, contrary, and spiteful toward his party. Or at least that was the way I interpreted it. He chose to say, "Is THIS what you want? Fine, take her."
Yes, it’s more complicated than that. There are things about Sarah Palin that John McCain liked — particularly the fact that she won election against her own party establishment. But there was always an unstated something that I felt MUST have been present for him to make such a decision.