McCain Camp’s Ill-Prepared Vetting Undercuts “Readiness” Argument

Much of John McCain’s presidential campaign has hinged on his so-called experience, which we’re led to believe means the Senator can run the White House. And, of course, the rest of the nation.

Time and time again McCain and his backers have insisted he’s “ready” for the job. Shoot, even President Bush has been getting in on the action, telling the Republican National Convention last night that McCain’s got the chops:

I know what it takes to be President [Editor: Really?!]. In these past eight years, I’ve sat at the Resolute desk and reviewed the daily intelligence briefings, the threat assessments, and reports from our commanders on the front lines. I’ve stood in the ruins of buildings knocked down by killers, and promised the survivors I would never let them down.

I know the hard choices that fall solely to a President. John McCain’s life has prepared him to make those choices. He is ready to lead this nation.

The recent dust-ups surrounding Sarah Palin make us wonder if McCain’s really can lead a nation.

McCain and his camp insist that they did a “thorough” vetting of Palin, searching public records and looking into her background, just as they did with so many other candidates. They did not, however, actually talk to her. The Senator’s campaign admitted Tuesday that they didn’t interview Palin until Wednesday, one day before she was asked to be the Republican’s running mate. Though the McCain campaign knew that Palin’s 17-year old, unwed daughter was with child – Palin told him during the Wednesday interview – we wonder whether they knew about Todd Palin’s drunk driving arrest twenty-years ago, or that Palin said God had steered the nation to war with Iraq, among other things.

These scandalous and worrisome details aside, the fact that McCain allowed his staffers to do such a sloppy search astounds us. Yes, McCain was under enormous pressure to fill his ticket, but the haphazard nature of this whole mess indicate two things. First, McCain does not have control of his camp, which must not completely understand the definition of “thorough”. If one can’t control their own staff, how can they be entrusted with the highest seat in the land?

Second, McCain’s apparent flippancy – carelessness? – raises serious questions about his judgment. Though obviously biased, Barack Obama campaign manager David Plouffe makes a good point in his criticism of McCain’s vetting: “The way the process was done should be of interest to voters because I do think it speaks to how things will be managed and executed as president.”

More than anything else, this Republican ticket suggests that McCain lacks a very presidential quality: foresight. Social conservatives may be pleased with Palin and this may turn out to be the best decision for McCain, but the tide of negative news make it seem like McCain simply doesn’t think about consequences. Perhaps McCain’s more like Bush than either man would care to admit.

[On a separate, but equally important note, McCain canceled an appearance on CNN after accusing anchor Campbell Brown of being partial in an interview with McCain pal Tucker Bounds. This sensitivity and the candidate’s repeated battles with the press also indicate a lack of readiness. And, we think, go against that whole “free press” thing. Dealing with journalists in a tactful and respectful manner’s part of the president’s job.]