John McCain was likely clueless his running mate Sarah Palin had an underage daughter with a love child — or at least that's what the Times is implying this morning. Meanwhile it looks like everyone from Time magazine to the National Enquirer to the entire population of Wasilla, Alaska was hip to the scandalous pregnancy. How could McCain have been left in the dark? It seems the presumptive Republican presidential nominee settled on Palin at the last minute, after figuring out that social conservatives might use the convention to nuke his top two choices, pseudo-Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, both pro-choice. Republican operatives vetted Palin for four or five days, one of them told the Times anonymously, but it sounds like even that's a reach:
"They didn't speak to anyone in the Legislature, they didn't speak to anyone in the business community," said Lyda Green, the State Senate president, who lives in Wasilla, where Palin served as mayor.
Representative Gail Phillips, a Republican and former speaker of the State House, said the widespread surprise in Alaska when Palin was named to the ticket made her wonder how intensively the McCain campaign had vetted her.
"I started calling around and asking, and I have not been able to find one person that was called," Phillips said. "I called 30 to 40 people...
The current mayor of Wasilla, Dianne Keller, said she had not heard of any efforts to look into Palin's background. And Randy Ruedrich, the state Republican Party chairman, said he knew nothing of any vetting that had been conducted.
Also, McCain's people won't say specifically when or how they found out about the pregnancy of Palin's 17-year-old daughter. Maybe because they didn't really know in advance!
...And the question I got in the e-mail was: What does John McCain think of premarital sex? What do you think about that? What are your thoughts?
I don't have any response to that type of question. I'm running for President of the United States; write what you want.
McCain was smart enough not to fall into that little trap.
He was also lucky enough that the Palin news broke right when everyone was distracted by Hurricane Gustav in Florida and early enough in his presidential campaign that it's likely to be a non-issue by the time of the election. Some observers think it might even end up being a net positive for McCain.
Meanwhile, the hugely unpopular president's scheduled speech at McCain's coronation has been swept aside by the hurricane. And the candidate gets to go down to Louisiana and maybe make people forget about the big birthday party he had the last time New Orleans was hit by a hurricane.
Now all McCain has to do is convince everyone Palin isn't a secessionist and make them forget she helped start a group hilariously titled "Ted Stevens Excellence In Public Service Inc.," after the Alaskan who became "the first sitting U.S. senator to face criminal charges in 15 years." Should be a fun convention!