I have known David Axelrod since 1981, when he was a journalist and I was a political consultant. We soon switched roles, and I have admired Axelrod's work ever since. But he didn't seem to anticipate the nomination of Sarah Palin. "I can honestly say we weren't prepared for that. I mean, her name wasn't on anybody's list," he said.
But that's not quite true. Palin was long a favorite of conservative magazines and blogs. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Jack Kelly was touting her back on June 4 and noted that A. B. Culvahouse had been to Alaska. At the Republican National Convention, McCain adviser Charlie Black told me, "You can keep a secret if you don't tell anybody." Palin was out there in plain sight, but Democrats didn't see her, presumably because they didn't anticipate that McCain would be so daring. But McCain was trained as a fighter pilot. Fighter pilots don't shoot down enemy planes by doing what the enemy anticipates. More on this, perhaps, in my next column.
By Michael Barone