ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On the VP Vetting Process

This story in the Washington Post is being used by political operatives and the Obama-worshipping media to call into question McCain's judgment in selecting Sarah Palin. When reading the story, you get the typical story structure of a newspaper, with facts and timelines intermingled throughout which confuse the reader as to the actual process that was used. Is this simply the way journalists write (with their "big facts" in the first few paragraphs and the "lesser facts" at the bottom)? Probably. Or it could be intended to give an impression that the vetting of Sarah Palin was inconsistent with the vetting process normally given to Vice Presidential candidates.

Here are the facts provided in the story, organized into a more coherent fashion:

Candidate Filtering
Original list of 20, slimmed down to 6 (Palin, Pawlenty, Lieberman, Ridge, Romney, Jindal) through public record search.

The list of 6 was put through a more extensive vetting process (see below) resulting in two finalists (Pawlenty & Palin).

Palin was selected by McCain after phone, questionnaire, and personal interviews with Culvahouse and McCain.

The Palin Timeline
February 2008 - McCain meets with Palin
Spring 2008 - Palin is on the list of 20
Summer 2008 - Palin on the shortlist of 6
mid-August 2008 - Palin / Pawlenty
Sunday (8/27) - Phone interview with McCain
Wednesday (8/27) - Meeting with Culvarhouse
Wed night (8/27) - Met with Steve Schmidt & Mark Salter in Flagstaff
Thurs AM (8/28) - In person interview with Palin in Sedona, AZ
Thurs PM (8/28) Palin selected

While McCain had personally met with some of the other potential candidates (ie, Romney, Pawlenty, Lieberman) in the past, the plan was that the finalist would not meet extensively with McCain in Arizona until that person appeared to be the likely choice. (Which makes sense - why bother to fly all 20 potential candidates to Arizona until they've been through the interview process and appear to be possible candidates?)

The Vetting Process
All 20 candidates had a background book (~ 40 pages for each) based on a search of public records.

Final 6 were subjected to an additional, lengthy background investigation, including review of tax returns, credit check, 70-item questionnaire addressing "nannies and household employees, infidelity, payment for sex, treatment for drug/alcohol abuse, and other personally intrusive subjects."

FBI did not do a background check on any of the 20, because they don't perform such checks for political parties:

"One U.S. law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the FBI does not conduct any kind of background checks or criminal history searches on behalf of political candidates or parties."
The MSM is using this fact as some sort of attack on McCain, which makes no sense at all.

In addition to the questionnaire, Culvahouse also asked other questions, such as how the potential candidate might respond to situation involving Osama bin Laden, who might appear with Howard Dean to unveil damaging information at a press conference, etc.

Here are the nuggets that were unveiled during the vetting process of Sarah:
  1. Trooper issue
  2. Her husband had a DUI 20+ years ago. Campaign decided this wasn't a big deal (probably due to the fact that the Democratic Presidential nominee had admitted to doing "blow" during the same time period).
  3. Bristol pregnant - disclosed to McCain's team on Wednesday and determined to be irrelevant since it's the VP candidates daughter.
I hope that helps. This Washington Times article is also helpful, also mention that Rick Davis had multiple conversations with Palin throughout the process.

It's unfortunate that some journalists have such trouble providing information in a clear manner.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler