Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and the vice presidential pick for Sen. John McCain’s failed 2008 White House run, was blasted by one of the Democratic Party’s loudest partisan mouths, former White House Chief of Staff William Daley, as the leading cause of what he called the Republican Party’s demise.
In a Washington Post opinion piece, Daley wrote: “When The Post’s front page declares: ‘Republicans are on the verge of ceasing to function as a national party,’ it’s time to ask: How did this come to pass? … This year’s carnival-like GOP presidential primary makes one event, in retrospect, stand out as a crucial turning point on the road to upheaval: the 2008 embrace of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be a heartbeat from the presidency.”
He went on, painting the accomplished politician in the most negative of light.
“Palin’s blatant lack of competence and preparedness needs no belaboring. What’s critical is that substantive, serious Republican leaders either wouldn’t or couldn’t declare, before or after the election: ‘This is not what our party stands for. We can and must do better.’ By the campaign’s end, GOP operatives were shielding Palin from even the simplest questions. (She had flunked ‘what newspapers do you read’). Barack Obama cruised to victory.”
Daley then criticized her Fox News contributor status as a staunch defender of the tea party.
“Bombast, not reason, reigned,” he wrote. “Now the ‘settle for flash’ aura of Palin’s candidacy looks like a warning that the party was prizing glib, red-meat rhetoric over reasoned solutions. … Once [John] McCain put Palin on the ticket, Republican ‘grown–ups,’ who presumably knew better, had to bite their tongues.”
Daley then turned a critical eye on those “grown–ups,” however, and said after the election, when McCain lost, they should have spoken up.
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“They either remained quiet or abetted the dumbing–down of the party,” he wrote. “They stood by as Donald Trump and others noisily pushed claims that Obama was born in Kenya. And they gladly rode the tea party tiger to sweeping victories in 2010 and 2014,” he wrote. “Now that tiger is devouring the GOP establishment. Party elders had hoped new presidential debate rules would give them greater control. But they are watching helplessly as Trump leads the pack and House Republicans engage in fratricide. It’s hard too feel much sympathy.”
“The Republican establishment’s 2008 embrace of Palin set an irresponsibly low bar,” Daley said. “Coincidence or not, a batch of nonsense–spewing, hard–right candidates quickly followed, often to disastrous effect.”