Analysis: Why the Republicans Can’t Replace Sarah Palin

September 30, 2008

It seems like the press is now convinced on two topics — the economic bailout that has cost us one trillion in a day — and everything about Sarah Palin. Because I am no economics professional and am too young to have a bank account, I have become more or less obsessed with Palin and her press craze. 

Very early this month, I found a small blog offering that John McCain’s campaign should ask Palin to step down as running mate, in what seemed like a drunken tone, which I had very little interest for mostly because the blog’s credibility and links were nothing less than bogus. 

I then started seeing more and more blogs pop up with this topic, along with the occasional webzine posting a opinion piece with similar views to the original blog. But I was extremely surprised to see the story go all the way to CNN’s Jack Cafferty File, a very prestigious, and to me, credible opinion blog. So as I sifted through the hundreds of comments, some (let us say) “interesting” points came up. This is one that I will center my analysis around — written by “erica”:

If he [John McCain] has half a brain he will – but I think we know how much brain he has, based on the fact he chose her in the first place.

I originally noticed this comment because it was so overly partisan that it triggered dozens of follow up arguments, but after staring at it for quite a long time, I saw something different in it — it was completely true…without the “brain” comments. 

 In truth, McCain made a smart decision, but a very  important one in his acquisition of Palin. And many can  agree that it has not paid off. 

 In my perspective, Palin was chosen in the most part for a  nation-wide press boost and to collect outer right  conservatives who otherwise wouldn’t support McCain. It is  widely disputed if they intended to also herd in former  Hillary Clinton supporters, but that is completely off topic. 

 In short, for whatever reason John McCain choose Sarah  Palin, he cannot avoid the fact that he has chosen her. He  also cannot avoid the fact that he has backed her up and  called her “the best running mate I could have chosen”  multiple times. So this now brings me to a revised version  of the comment I saw. 

John McCain is now feeling his Sarah Palin press fire burn out in the midst of the economic crisis, and although he and his staff know that Palin does not have a good chance of coming out of the debate (or really any public appearance) with an increase in the polls, he has chosen her. He cannot replace her. 

He simply can’t. Sending Palin into a debate that now seems impossible to win and hard to stay alive would prompt any political writer, commentator, strategist, blogger — anyone to think that it would be a good campaign move to replace her. But he can’t.

Palin, in her VP beginnings, was a literal press flame although she barely ever choose to enter the media. And I, as well as many liberal and conservatives alike thought it she could carry that media flame all the way to the White House. As a Democrat and teenage citizen of the US, I was terrified by her, but as a political strategist I strongly thought that she could eventually carry her stardom all the way. But I forgot one thing — she had to debate. I stand corrected. 

The McCain campaign has found themselves in a trap. Their favorite baseball was hit as a home run, but instead of clearing their fence to their friendly neighbor’s yard, it was hit too hard, landing in the haunted house that Joe Biden lives in. 

In more simple words, Palin was a genius idea that worked, perhaps too well. The conservatives just didn’t look far ahead enough politically and tested all available traps to see that this could happen. Palin started off brilliantly, but then she made some mistakes and the press as well as many others have exploited them. Hence her “Bridge To Nowhere” claim that everyone from Bono to Keith Olberman have capitalized on. Her two failed interviews that are now legendary on youtube, being smashed to pieces by comedian Tina Fey. But most of all, it is the few information that has been given out, most of it called lies. 

So as Palin limps into the debates, there is a very low chance she will make it out. And there is literately nothing John McCain can do about it.

42 Responses to “Analysis: Why the Republicans Can’t Replace Sarah Palin”

  1. culturelobster Says:

    Here’s a look at his attempts at damage control so far. It’s kind of sad.

  2. pacer521 Says:


    It is pretty sad — that video was more of less a coffee sit-down with a hardcore interviewer, but it just shows that Palin is really getting herself into some trouble.

    All this is getting me increasingly partisan… thanks for the comment!

  3. fhamme Says:

    it would be political suicide if she was replaced.

  4. skywaker9 Says:

    But it would about as politically smart as any other move he’s made recently…

  5. Escapade Says:

    They’re not going to dump her. Any one asserts this as a possibility is a fool and there is no need to analyse anything about it. And you know what? I think she’s going to give a creditable but potentially unpalatable performance for independents in Thursday’s debate.

  6. pacer521 Says:


    I didn’t say that they were going to dump her. I guess you can say whatever you want to say about the debate and we’ll see who is right. thanks for the comment

  7. Exactly… here’s the problem:

    If her handlers are ‘successful,’ they will fill up her head with neoconservative bull— and she will spout it CORRECTLY.

    This would not be nearly as funny as the Katie Couric interviews, but it would be just as disastrous for the Republicans: she would tie herself to the failed ideology and policies that put us in two losing wars — and on the verge of a Greater Depression.

    I’m not a Democrat, I’m a liberal. Democrats go to meetings.

  8. FXDCI Says:

    And she would do that while standing next to a very good debater who can shred those talking points.

  9. pacer521 Says:

    I won’t intrude on comments that have already been debated.

  10. She isn’t going to provide anything further, good or bad, to McCain. Her supporters will remain her supporters. Her detractors will remain her detractors. That’s pretty much it.

    Meanwhile, McCain is now trailing by double digits in some polls? Because of Palin? No. Because of the economy.

    Basically all Biden has to do is not get blown out in the VP debate. I for one am pretty confident in his abilities to hold his own in that regard.

  11. pacer521 Says:

    W Lane Startin,

    I disagree that she won’t provide anything further, I think Palin is essentially going to cause a lot of noise in a good and bad way with the debates as they are. thanks for the comment.

  12. Whisper Says:

    Would the fact there are laws about ballot changes governing this and that over a dozen states have already begun casting ballots via early voting have anything to do with it?

  13. Corvo Says:

    Response to Whisper #1

    Actually, it was the Rethugs who appointed Fitz too.

    And just this morning Nina Totenberg, one of the few folks on NPR worth listening to, expressed considerable doubt as to whether the new prosecutor in the case of the mass firing of the U.S. Attorneys would be doing anything of substance.

  14. voracious Says:

    Response to Whisper #2

    Why bother? We already know they are corrupt. If Gonzales is indicted, Bush would just pardon him.

  15. FXDCI Says:

    Response to Whisper #3

    Bush would likely be out of office by the time charges are filed. He would have to pardon him while he was being investigated…

  16. nonblondqt Says:

    Thanks for your thoughts here. You stated that you’re a Democrat, yet you’re too young to have a bank account! hahahaa

    It’s always true what Churchill said, isn’t it…
    If you are young and conservative you have no heart, if you are old and liberal you have no brain.

    Funny, though, Democrat – no bank account. LOL
    -I couldn’t resist :)~

  17. Corvo Says:

    Response to Whisper #4

    Nothing prevents that.

  18. pacer521 Says:


    Yeah, it seems like whenever I mention I am thirteen that gets some sort of point out… thanks for the comment.

    also, if anyone is wondering, I posted “response to Whisper #__” to get the comment section a bit more organized.

    resume commenting!

  19. Voracious Says:

    Why would they want to replace her?

    They are so “excited” by her and think McCain was a “genius” for picking her.

    That said, George Bush has proven that you can perform MISERABLY multiple times at a debate: “I own a lumber mill, that’s news to me. Wanna buy some wood?” (if that isn’t like Palin’s “I’ll get back to you” I don’t know what is)and suffer no consequences.

    I was so happy to see Bush debate Kerry because each time I knew that coupled with two losing wars, and high gas prices, there was no way we were going to re-elect that complete IDIOT. Obviously, the idiot demographic is quite large in this country.

    Do not underestimate the stupidity of Republican voters. They will still support McCain, and the spin will be away from Palin when she sucks on Thursday and back onto how great McCain is.

    The debate should be good for some excellent SNL material. I hope they can use her actual words like last time, that made it the funniest sketch ever.

  20. pacer521 Says:


    I can se what you are saying, but I think we should act a bit more in the present. Funny last point and thanks for the comment!

  21. Common Cents Says:

    Palin won’t be replaced unless she dies.

    McCain has already doubled down on her and he pretty much has to due to her appeal to the base. The base is his only hope to possibly turn out enough votes to hold former Republican strongholds like Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina. He is hoping for that Rove magic of base turnout in those areas and he needs Palin for that. Lieberman or some other moderate would depress turnout.

  22. Response to Common Cents #1

    you never know when a Russian might rear his head over Alaska and poof…it’s all over.

  23. The Bargeron Says:

    Two or three weeks ago perhaps she could have said, as my family struggles to deal with the blessings and trials of new motherhood, I feel that it’s best for me to devote more time to them right now. And so I must step aside as the Republican nominee for VP.

    Now he’s stuck with her. We’re a month away.

  24. JFinNe Says:

    Response to The Bargeron #1

    Todd is making a lot of noise recently about her being away from home and missing the children. Palin is sequestered on the McCain Sedona ‘compound’ this week preparing for the debate, but Todd and the children are there also, which probably sets up conflicts. If we were to hear more ‘noise’ from Todd, perhaps we should think about her pulling out?

  25. ZappoDave Says:

    Response to The Bargeron #2 and JFinNe

    I haven’t heard much about Todd lately… where did you pick that up?

  26. Response #4 to JFinNe

    Todd is 100% on board because if she takes this thing, he would ascend to a level of power where no Snow Machine Champion has gone before.

  27. The Bargeron Says:

    Response #4 from The Bargeron to southofboston, zappodave

    I think he’s eliminated that choice
    by waiting too long. As bad as she is, there would be absolutely no recovery at this point from the doubts about his judgment it would raise. No matter how they do it, in the current climate it will be seen as a push-out. And after the debate, it really is the point of no return.

    They are praying that she hits a grand slam home run.

  28. pacer521 Says:

    Funny comments, and debate above — just saying to everyone: thanks for the immediate response!

  29. newdem1960 Says:

    The Big Question…
    Who would be willing to step in?

  30. jarhead5536 Says:

    What a mess this is.
    I am of two minds here:

    1. If we have the least bit of worry that McCain might win this thing, she has to go. NOW. The woman is a clear and present danger to international security, and cannot be allowed anywhere near a nuclear football. God help us if McCain were to die in office (likely given his age and health issues).

    2. If we have no worries about Obama’s victory, leave her in place, for precisely the same reasons. She is far too dangerous a person to be allowed anywhere near a nuclear football, and this is a legitmate talking point to scare wavering independents into voting against McCain…

  31. pacer521 Says:


    You raise a very good point..

    There are of course many other people who could lead this country better than Palin, but your question would pose a problem — they would have to find someone to match Palin’s stardom, and that is now almost impossible.

  32. pacer521 Says:


    I can see where you are getting at. We can’t let her near anything, and there is a big threat…

    but the thing is we aren’t sure about anything, especially which campaign will come out on top, until the close of the VP debate. It will make a big difference, so that is why it is so important.

  33. Rachel Says:

    loved the Biden comment!

  34. huxbux Says:


    Judging on how the McCain camp has tightly controlled Palin’s press exposure, it can be inferred that they identify her weakness in policy handling. And in any hypothetical McCain/Palin White House, I would think they’d keep her as far away from policy making as possible. Instead assigning her the role of a domestic dignitary. It would be the inverse of Bush/Cheney.

  35. Terrant Says:

    I don’t believe that McCain can change her out even if he wanted to. His selection as Palin was the first real decision as the “maverick”. If he backs down now, that is going to call judgment into question.

    I have a feeling that if elected, Palin role is going to be just to break ties in congress and to check on McCain health. In other words, she is going to be more of a puppy than a pit bull.

  36. A.E. Says:

    “In more simple words, Palin was a genius idea that worked, perhaps too well.”

    Edward Luttwak elaborates on this in “Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace.” In Luttwak’s view, strategy has a logic that is fundamentally different from other forms of human endeavor, a paradoxical logic. A victorious action, once it is carried Clausewitz’s culminating point, slowly transforms into defeat as both the opponent and the situation shifts. Likewise, Palin was a tactical maneuver that McCain was trying to employ for strategic effect. It succeeded in giving him attention, but not in changing the logic and composition of the system governing the campaign’s operational space.

  37. A.E. Says:

    If you’re interested in the concept of the culminating point, see this article from the Military Review:

  38. GrammaConcept Says:

    i hear a baby crying…….

  39. This is an excellent, well thought out post and I really enjoyed your perspective. I have to say that Jack Cafferty has been assaulting Sarah Palin now for a number of days and is beginning to look a bit obsessed as well. Hopefully this disaster sorts itself out because it is almost painful to watch.

    The debate should be interesting either way though.

  40. saysalice Says:

    As a military man, McCain is probably scared shitless about this debate. He’s sending troops into a battle they can’t possibly win, even though Palin’s probably better with a real gun than Biden.

  41. xantica Says:

    I agree with your opinion that McCain seems trapped with his decision to take Palin to the White House with him (should he be elected). I think it’s a pretty well-accepted view by now that he chose her because of her popularity and her “fresh face” which caused quite a distraction from the Democratic National Convention as well as from Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden for VP. In my opinion, McCain cannot change his pick now or anytime after he chose her.
    1/ It would have upset his base if he had kicked her off the ticket too soon
    2/ No one matched her popularity and ability to draw as much media attention (for so long, even!).
    3/ It would give the impression that he was wrong, that she’s not ready to lead, and everything he had been saying to us all this time was only to tell us what we wanted to hear.

    On that last point in particular, the most important reason why I think he cannot and will not choose a new running mate–whether or not it’s too late for that isn’t even a concern for the point I am making–is that he just does not strike me as the kind of person who will admit that he has done something wrong. Particularly as someone who continues to go along trying to defend his decision for so long, how could he back down now and still have the trust of the majority of voters?

    In conclusion: Trapped, indeed.


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