PALINBillPugliano:Getty

I was recently informed by an insider about how Mark Halperin and John Heilemann had a fantastic scoop in their upcoming election book about how Palin repeatedly couldn't get Joe Biden's name right in prepping for her high-wire debate performance. Mike Allen leads with the scoop today. But it isn't a scoop. Palin, with characteristic canniness, got in her own version of this story first. If Schmidt really wants to tell his side of this story, he needs to get real. But to get real, of course, he has to confess that he was guilty of near-criminal professional negligence in selecting Palin without knowing anything about her. And so Palin gets to tell her lies and spin with impunity. Because the GOP establishment is both so cynical and condescending to Palin's base (she was absolutely right to smell elitist contempt in the mindset of McCain), they will never take the Palinites head on. And because the professionals are busted, Palin gets to define the party and perhaps divide it more profoundly. The ridden tiger keeps burning brighter.

In many ways, these are perilous populist times for the Democrats. But when you see Palin stiffing CPAC, embracing the fringe Birther WND right, and when you see Rubio and Brown embrace torture, and when you witness the increasing clout of fundamentalism, and the extremity of the anti-government rhetoric ... you wonder if McCain's massive blunder did not just destroy what hope he had in 2008, but was actually a slow-fuse detonator of the entire Republican coalition.

What a loser McCain is. His soul has been sold so many times now it's a wonder it's not on eBay. And yet he is so useless as a politician, so incapable of winning any national election, and so desperate to do so, he may also have destroyed his career and party in the process.

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