Update: Tues 12 Nov 2008
Josh Painter has posted the Sarah Palin portion of the Leno interview.
His opinion in a nutshell: Nothing to see here, move on She didn't hurt my campaign - nothing out of the ordinary is going on with my campaign aides - I'm not going to ruffle any feathers that will disturb my comfortable position.
My verdict: he's lost his honor
Correlaries: 1) he prefers Senatorial comity and the plaudits of his enemies over doing right by those who sacrificed for him; 2) he really is too old mentally to keep up with changing times (preferring to live in a past that is no more).
From today's Wall Street Journal editorial:
Where's John McCain's honor when we need it? We'll find out tonight, when the Arizona Republican appears on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. In the week since the election, Mr. McCain's campaign team has leaked some nasty stuff about Sarah Palin. These leaks are personal, and they speak more to the character of Mr. McCain and the leakers than they do to Mrs. Palin. So it will be telling if Mr. McCain stands up for his partner and says how offended he has been by what some of his staffers have done to her. We are asked to believe that Mrs. Palin was not ready for a national campaign. On what evidence from any part of this election are we to conclude that anyone on the McCain campaign team was ready for a national campaign?
Let's remember too that the only time Mr. McCain surged ahead -- in the polls, in the volunteers, in the mojo -- was when he picked Mrs. Palin. Before that he and his staff had been flying solo, and they were losing. When the contest returned to the top of the ticket, as presidential campaigns inevitably do, Mr. McCain and his team drove their lead into the ground. It wasn't Mrs. Palin who dramatically flew to Washington promising a legislative answer to the most important economic issue of our day -- and then, in the words of a New York Times campaign profile, "came off more like a stymied bystander than a leader who could make a difference." And what does it say when the campaign team of a man who has spent decades in the U.S. Senate cannot agree on (much less present) a coherent answer to why he should be elected president of the United States -- except that he's not Barack Obama?
It will be instructive to see whether Mr. McCain will now extend the same level of graciousness to Mrs. Palin that he has to Mr. Obama, by giving a public slapdown to the very public smears emanating from his own campaign team. We have no idea what Mr. McCain will do when he sits down with Mr. Leno tonight. But there's no doubt what a man of honor would do.
John, we supported you in your candidacy with varying degress of reluctance. You have positioned yourself throughout your political career as a maverick, although a less charitable description would be a loose cannon, one who is more apt to put a hole in the side of a ship from your own party than to damage to enemy's vessels. But given the threat that President-elect Obama poses to the future of our nation, your commitment to conservative values, imperfect as it is, and your foreign policy knowledge offered a better path for our nation in these perilous times.
But the character trait of yours that most secured my support was your sense of honor rooted in your past service to our country's military. I protested as calumny those who charged that you had lost your honor - and those who charged you with treating you enemies more graciously than your friends. But as your career of public service approaches its final years, you risk throwing away that honor which you have long accrued.
John, you know what it is to risk your life in battle and to stand fast when the easy but dishonorable alternative presented itself. Sarah steadfastly stood by you throughout this campaign, enduring the most dispicable character assassination attempts in modern Presidential history, putting her future political career in jeopardy because of the incompetence (and perhaps malice) of your campaign's handlers.
And our country desperately needs Sarah's leadership in these very dangerous times that lay ahead because of your campaign's failures. To stand by silently while she is being maligned by those cowards who want to save their sorry futures at her expense would be the cruelest betrayal of her trust and loyalty - indeed would be so base and dishonorable an act that it would indeliably stain your hitherto distinguished career of service to our nation. The hour is late; you have done nothinig for too long already.
There's no doubt what a man of honor would do.
(cross-posted at And Rightly So!)