It’s good to see The Atlantic doing serious reporting on the Eagleton Scenario. I will continue my Eagleton Watch until Sarah Palin accepts the nomination and appears in her scheduled debate with Joe Biden. I figure that once she debates Biden it will be officially too late to replace her on the ballot. Eagleton lasted for eighteen days in 1972 until media howling about his treatment for depression pressured George McGovern to replace him with Sargent Shriver. McGovern went on to get his ass handed to him in the November elections.
For two generations a bunch of pansy-ass former liberal pundits have wrung their hands about how hippies and peaceniks took over the party and nominated George McGovern. But the real reason McGovern got killed is because he totally screwed up his vice-presidential pick and undermined peoples’ confidence in his competence to lead the nation in a time of war and conflict with the Soviet Union. John McCain has made the exact same blunder. The question is whether he will look to McGovern’s example as a reason not to replace Sarah Palin. After all, McGovern only wound up confirming the widespread opinion that he had screwed the pooch with Eagleton. The obvious take-away from that piece of history is that McCain cannot expect to get a mulligan on this piece of crap decision even if he asks for a do-over.
For this reason I do not believe that John McCain will ever decide it is in his own best interests to throw Palin under a bus. But it may not be completely up to McCain because his own interests are not synonymous with the interests of the Republican Party or its nearly 50 senators and nearly 200 representatives. Those 250-odd politicians and aspiring politicians have to face townhalls and skeptical reporters and they have to toe the party-line and sell themselves to the public. If the polls start to line up against them (and they look bad enough already) those politicians are going to be begging McCain to stop the bleeding and stop forcing them to defend the indefensible.
In such a scenario, McCain would be caught in a whipsaw between the party activists that largely support Palin and the elected officials that are pleading for their jobs. If Palin gets dumped it won’t be because of pressure from the base of the party, but pressure from elected officials, big party donors, allies in the press, and business interests that are petrified at the prospect of immense Democratic majorities.
In other words, watch the polls. There is a very small chance that Palin will get dumped at the convention. But if she makes it through the convention, look to see if Obama starts showing a commanding lead in previously competitive or Republican states. Look to see if that is transferring down to Senate and House races. If it is, look for a revolt. That is how it will play out.