Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

  McCain campaign: shameless And incompetent

At The Atlantic Joshua Green adds an important new twist to the Palin "Accessorama" story broken yesterday by Jeanne Cummings. The RNC's September filings with the FEC show that they employed a personal shopper to acquire Sarah Palin's expensive new wardrobe.

But it gets worse. The PS was one Jeff Larson, a notorious Republican operative, a protege of Karl Rove, and one of the last people McCain would want to be linked to in news stories as he tries to portray himself as a new kind of Republican reformer. Larson's firm FLS Connect was behind the infamous robocalls in South Carolina in 2000 that smeared John McCain and doomed his campaign. FLS also is responsible for the nasty robocalls smearing Obama, which are drawing such bad publicity for McCain this week.

Add to that the fact that Larson stands accused of renting an apartment in DC at a steep discount to GOP Sen. Norm Coleman. Larson's wife works in Coleman's office in Minnesota. That's one of several tawdry corruption scandals swirling around Coleman that threaten his re-election. Another allegation against Coleman: that he accepted expensive clothing as a gift from a Republican backer, businessman Nasser Kazeminy. Snazzy duds seem to be an accepted perk among a certain class of Republican office-seekers.

Anyway, the McCain campaign should have had the sense to keep a sleazy operative like Larson away from their guy or at least make sure their ties to him did not become public. And yet, the RNC uses him unnecessarily as Palin's personal shopper and then names him in an FEC filing. It's both shameless and incompetent...the twin hallmarks of the McCain campaign throughout this year.

Joshua Green highlights the point that it's a basic question of competence for a presidential campaign to obscure any connections with unseemly political operatives:

What’s so incompetent about this from a political tradecraft perspective is that both parties ordinarily take the easy precaution of making sure such embarrassing material isn’t obvious to reporters, which they do by routing the payment through a law firm or consultant. Here they neglected to do so.

What McCain's campaign has done during this summer and fall is raise the very same kinds of doubts that Hillary Clinton's campaign raised during last winter and spring. Clinton's campaign organization showed itself to be supremely, and surprisingly, incompetent at really basic things - like managing its budget; identifying the states it needed to compete in, implementing a plan for each, and opening offices there; keeping surrogates under control; and identifying a coherent and consistent message for their candidate to present.

McCain's campaign since he won the Republican nomination battle has raised similar doubts about their competence. Funny, both Clinton and McCain have tried to defeat Barack Obama by portraying themselves as the more seasoned candidate while casting Obama as a lightweight. And yet Obama's campaign has been consistently competent at carrying out the campaign fundamentals, whereas McCain and Clinton both have looked like they were flying by the seats of their pants.

crossposted at

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