John McCain Aides Trash Gov. Sarah Palin in Vanity Fair

Republican presidential candidate John McCain names Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008.

Longtime friends and campaign workers for Arizona Sen. John McCain have been talking to Vanity Fair about what Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s candidacy as vice president did for the GOP ticket in 2008.

“A Little Shop of Horrors,” said one unnamed aide.

Perhaps they want to keep the governor — still a hot-button favorite among social conservatives — off the ticket in 2012?

In a just-published piece by Todd Purdum in the August Vanity Fair, McCain aides said they still suffer a kind of survivor’s guilt. (An earlier version of this post misspelled the author’s last name as Purdam.)

“They can’t quite believe that for two frantic months last fall, caught in a Bermuda Triangle of a campaign, they worked their tails off to try to elect as vice president of the United States someone who, by mid-October, they believed for certain was nowhere near ready for the job, and might never be,” Purdam writes.

A former reporter for the New York Times and husband of former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, Purdam has a few nuggets of news. Reports of tension between Palin and McCain are, well, true.

She maintained “only the barest level of civil discourse” with Tucker Eskew, the operative assigned to be her chief minder, Purdam reports. Mark McKinnon, a longtime McCain admirer and a former Democrat who told insiders he would never work against Barack Obama in the general election, signed on to be Palin’s “whisperer,” the calming influence. And Obama, on learning of Palin’s selection, said Palin would never have time to get up to speed. “I don’t care how talented she is, this is really a leap,” said Obama, telling aides it had taken him four months to learn how to be a national candidate.

But for the most, the piece reads more like juicy political speculation than news. Many of the quotes are from aides who would rather not be named. And it’s hard to read the title — “It Came From Wasilla” — as anything but an insult, at least to anyone who’s a person who came from somewhere.

Palin refused to talk to Vanity Fair for the piece. At work on her own book about her life — to be published jointly by HarperCollins and the Bible-publishing house Zondervan — the self-described pit bull-with-lipstick  from Alaska will get plenty of ink for her rebuttal.

In the meantime, here come the knives.

Johanna Neuman
Los Angeles Times

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