From Mr Clark S. Judge.
Sir, In “How Hollywood changed my view of Sarah Palin” (Comment, March 24), Gillian Tett mistakenly accepts the HBO movie Game Change’s account of John McCain’s August 2008 selection of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running-mate.
As portrayed in the film, the Palin pick arose from the McCain team’s desperate YouTube-facilitated search for a compelling “counter to the charisma of Barack Obama”. In fact, Mr McCain faced a political dilemma to which Ms Palin was almost the inspired solution.
Mr McCain had a problem with strong conservatives and independents. Each group was bound to see his vice-presidential choice as evidence of whether they could trust him. However, any likely candidate who would attract one was all but certain to alienate the other – except Ms Palin.
We all know how she energises conservatives even today. But in mid-2008 she looked as good a bet to excite nonaligned voters.
In becoming Alaska’s governor, Ms Palin had shown independence and courage, challenging an entrenched establishment of her own party. In her brilliant convention acceptance speech, Ms Palin reached out to both conservatives and independents, and for the next half month the ticket led in the polls. Then came the financial crisis and Mr McCain’s erratic response. The contrast with Mr Obama’s cool-headed performance sealed the election’s outcome.
Ms Palin’s strengths and weaknesses have been, in Ms Tett’s phrase, “twisted by a political machine gone mad” as operatives tried to pass blame for their campaign blunders. But whatever one thinks of her, it is a shame that HBO’s producers went along with that distorted account.
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