In 2008, John McCain basically won the nomination on Super Tuesday, which was February 5, but Mike Huckabee fought all the way to March 4, when he withdrew and McCain clinched it. The deadline for selecting a running mate was the Republican National Convention, scheduled for September 1. Oh, sure, perhaps you would want the veepstakes to be concluded at least a few days before the convention, but the hard deadline was September 1.
Which means that McCain’s campaign had almost all of March to select and vet a running mate. And all of April. And all of May. And all of June. And all of July. And all of August.
And they — and he — selected someone who, whatever her many, many, many other flaws, was currently under an ethics investigation in her state. I mean, how do you do that? It’s really hard to believe the level of irresponsibility, and really I don’t see how Republicans have ever forgiven McCain for it.
I don’t think Jonathan asks the right question; Republicans haven’t forgiven McCain, because they don’t need to forgive McCain, because he no longer plays a meaningful or relevant role in party politics. The better question is why Bill Kristol has never been made to pay a price for bringing Palin to McCain’s attention. There seems to be some consensus that Kristol played the key role in elevating Palin, and that his evidentiary standards for doing so were… weak. I suppose that part of the answer might be that blaming Kristol would represent taking McCain’s side in the dispute, a stand which is of no value whatsoever to an ambitious right wing pundit or campaign apparatchik. Still, I suspect that there’s space for a strong critique of Kristol from within the right wing machine, and that Kristol must have made sufficient numbers of enemies within the movement to create an opportunity for a “devour your own” moment.