Friday, September 12, 2008

A Begala Canard

Last night on Charlie Rose*, Paul Begala claimed that John McCain had not vetted Sarah Palin properly because he "met her once two years ago and had one fifteen minute phone conversation with her. I wouldn't even have dinner with someone based on that."

Begala is - to put it as politely as possible - wrong. As the Washington Post reported McCain first met Palin at the National Governors Conference in February of 2008 (sometimes referred to as “this year”). They met privately, then spoke for about fifteen minutes at a social event. Palin’s name was on the list of possible Vice-Presidential candidates from that point on.

Similarly David Brooks of the New York Times talks about “[w]hen McCain met Sarah Palin last February”. (Brooks’ entire article, “What the Palin Pick Says”, is well worth reading. It provides a far more interesting explanation of McCain’s pick of Palin than most other accounts.)

If Begala had offered his snappy but inaccurate observation as part of a campaign speech or statement or if Obama or Biden had made it, it would still be untrue but I’d cut them some slack for taking political license. As part of what was supposed to be an “informed” “discussion about the 2008 Presidential Election”, it’s out of line. In that situation a little spin is to be expected but - as Senator Obama himself would say - “You can’t just make stuff up.”


* As I write this, the video is not yet up. I saw the show and the text of Begala’s statement can be found in the comment made by Scott A. Snyder on Thursday, September 11, at 11:24pm.

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