A.B. Culvahouse Contradicts George Will

As Whitney reported yesterday, noted misogynist George Will questioned Governor Palin’s capacity to be entrusted with nuclear weapons as President (Will didn’t elaborate on the qualifications he deems Obama to have gained in this arena as a part-time senator and full-time community organizer, but I digress). In months prior to Senator McCain’s selection of Governor Palin as his running mate, the McCain campaign engaged long-time Washington power broker A.B. Culvahouse to vet potential candidates.  Among those vetted were Governor Palin and 25 other potential VP candidates, including Will’s latest flavor of the month, Tim Pawlenty.  Via Mark Silva (emphasis mine):

Arthur “A.B.” Culvahouse, a prominent Washington attorney who served as White House counsel to President Ronald Reagan during the president’s final two years and led Sen. John McCain’s search for a running mate – a search that included a “long list” of 26 candidates – told the tale today of picking Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.


Culvahouse,  a former counsel to then-Sen. Howard Baker in the 1970s, had delivered Baker’s paperwork when he was being considered for Gerald Ford’s vice president – there were 19 questions asked.

“The questionnaire I sent out for John McCain had 74,” Culvahouse said – noting that some had generic titles, such as “the Zoe Baird question… There was no debating about what ‘the meaning of is, is’… I wrote that question… ‘Have you ever been unfaithful?… ‘Is there anyone who could truthfully assert you’ve been unfaithful?”’

They considered many.

“We had 26 people on the long list. It was a blind basis… They did not know they were on the list,” said Culvahouse, who had a staff of 30 lawyers helping him who wrote 50-page reports on the candidates.

“Gov. Palin told us everything – everything except the pregnancy (of) her daughter was on the written questionnaire,” he said of Palin, who discussed teenage daughter Bristol’s pregnancy privately. “She told me there was one issue she wanted to talk about. We knew everything going in.”

Palin “has lots of presence. She fills up a room,”  said Culvahouse, noting that some of his most cynical colleagues also were impressed with her.


They asked her if she is prepared to use nuclear weapons in the defense of the American homeland, he said, and they asked her if, say Osama bin Laden should be spotted, but taking him out would result in many other casualties, would she take the shot?

“She knocked those three questions out of the park,” he said.

Well that’s interesting.  Culvahouse, who’s met his share of leaders and power-brokers during his long career in Washington, was more than satisfied with Governor Palin’s competence in this area.  She knocked it ‘out of the park’. Culvahouse’s assessment, with the benefit of exhaustive research from his team of thirty, completely contradicts George Will’s musings which are backed up by, well, nothing at all.  If Will has some specific and concrete information to ‘refudiate’ the findings of Culvahouse and his team, perhaps he’ll share it with us.  If not, why should his unsubstantiated opinion be given any credence at all?

One other point: Does anyone think a President Palin would have waited 16 hours to decide whether or not to go ahead with the Bin Laden mission?  Obama did.  I’m guessing that a President Palin wouldn’t have so dithered.  I suspect, after reading Culvahouse’s assessment above, that he would agree. Video below:

(a big hat tip to Adam Brickley)

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