Still smarting from her YouTube moment this afternoon–in which she called John McCain’s VP choice of Sarah Palin “political bullshit”–Republican pundit Peggy Noonan published an apology in the Wall Street Journal. She didn’t deny that she said what she said, but she did say one important remark had been misconstrued (here and elsewhere). Mostly she apologized for using a “barnyard epithet.”
Noonan said that when she said “It’s over,” she wasn’t referring to McCain’s chances of winning the presidency. Her contention is supported by the audiotape, in which it is not clear what “It’s over” is referring to (although the assumption that she meant the campaign is a reasonable inference from the excerpt audible on the tape).
Noonan did not apologise for saying Sarah Palin was not the most qualified woman McCain could have chosen–she was thinking specifically of Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison–and, as in the video, she again trashed the Republicans’ preference for a good story over a good candidate (the “Narrative.”) She also said she has met Sarah Palin and likes her.
Well, I just got mugged by the nature of modern media, and I wish it weren’t my fault, but it is. Readers deserve an explanation, so I’m putting a new top on today’s column and, with the forbearance of the Journal, here it is…
When the segment was over and MSNBC was in commercial, Todd, Murphy and I continued our conversation, talking about the Palin choice overall. We were speaking informally, with some passion — and into live mics. An audio tape of that conversation was sent, how or by whom I don’t know, onto the internet. And within three hours I was receiving it from friends far and wide, asking me why I thought the McCain campaign is “over”, as it says in the transcript of the conversation.
Here I must plead some confusion. In our off-air conversation, I got on the subject of the leaders of the Republican party assuming, now, that whatever the base of the Republican party thinks is what America thinks. I made the case that this is no longer true, that party leaders seem to me stuck in the assumptions of 1988 and 1994, the assumptions that reigned when they were young and coming up. “The first lesson they learned is the one they remember,” I said to Todd — and I’m pretty certain that is a direct quote.
But, I argued, that’s over, those assumptions are yesterday, the party can no longer assume that its base is utterly in line with the thinking of the American people. And when I said, “It’s over!” — and I said it more than once — that is what I was referring to. I am pretty certain that is exactly what Todd and Murphy understood I was referring to. In the truncated version of the conversation, on the Web, it appears I am saying the McCain campaign is over. I did not say it, and do not think it. In fact, at an on-the-record press symposium on the campaign on Monday, when all of those on the panel were pressed to predict who would win, I said that I didn’t know, but that we just might find “This IS a country for old men.” That is, McCain may well win.
I do not think the campaign is over, I do not think this is settled, and did not suggest, back to the Todd-Murphy conversation, that “It’s over.”
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