Matthews: Palin’s VP nomination is a lesson for all in politics


Let me finish tonight with this.

You know it’s an amazing thing to be caught in a public predicament, to have this problem, this situation that may be beyond your control but you, and everyone in the country is watching you, have to fix it.

I watched Game Change for the second time this week. It’s a fabulous movie and, as I’ve said, everyone who loves politics and loves this country should find a way to watch it many times, because you keep appreciating it all the deeper.

What it’s really about is this thing we call a “predicament.” It’s when you’re in deep, growing pretty sure you’re not going to get out of it the best way, and hoping to cut your losses.

This is where Steve Schmidt and his candidate John McCain were, I imagine, in those hard weeks of 2008, when the presidential election was just retreating away from them in the face of the charismatic Barack Obama and the apparent vacuity of the vice presidential candidate they had decided would be their “game changer.”

It’s Steve Schmidt I kept more and more focusing on. This guy was up to his elbows in alligators, desperately trying to keep things from going completely haywire, trying to keep his candidate on the road to possible victory, and–and this is the hard part–keeping Sarah Palin a reasonable facsimile of a national candidate, and also keeping Sarah Palin from, in her own unforgettable phrase, “going rogue.”

It’s pure pathos and so much what it means to be a human being in this complex, shake-and-bake era we live in. Not to be too snooty, it reminded me of a quote by John Paul Sartre: “We do not do what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are.”

How many times do we get pushed into a decision, only to begin to regret the moment after we have made it? They knew picking Palin was a risk, but did it anyway. They knew they were not picking a possible president, or even a vice president. They were simply picking a running mate who would help them win, but did it nonetheless.

And they faced the consequences and had to live them out slowly and painfully–really only a downpayment of what history would exact of them–for having made that expedient decision to pick an unqualified candidate for V.P. 

That is what this incredibly serious, and yes, wonderfully entertaining movie is all about: the all-too-familiar, all-too-human predicament that gets put on full public display in politics. 

“We do not do what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are.”

Watch Chris’s interview with Game Change co-author Mark Halperin and screenwriter Danny Strong from yesterday here.

Sarah Palin and Hardball Let Me Finish

Matthews: Palin's VP nomination is a lesson for all in politics