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Palin disaster, Powell endorsement

Justin Webb | 03:18 UK time, Monday, 20 October 2008

She's not funny and she's not clever. And it is time to say clearly that she has probably lost this contest for McCain.

Sarah Palin is indeed a disaster for the presidential ambitions of John McCain. This is not opinion: it is fact. During the height of Palin mania - with some in the British press suggesting she was the new Margaret Thatcher - I wrote this piece for The Times suggesting that she was on the ticket "to serve a purpose but not to serve in office" and that social conservatism could not and would not drive the nation this year.

Well, the trouble for McCain is that the nation will not buy the idea that she can - Quayle-like - just serve quietly in the shadows. She might become president. That is what has driven thinking Republicans to despair this season. Now this. If Lieberman were the choice, or even Romney, I wonder if Powell would have stayed quiet?

Anyway it is probably too late now. I notice even in Arizona - McCain's home state - the latest poll suggests a less than double digit lead for the Republican candidate. This Obama strength in the oddest of places is a sign of his power but also a hint of a crisis if McCain were to pull off a win in the electoral college: McCain cannot win the popular vote, can he? Obama can only lose by messing up in Ohio and Florida and Pennsylvania. And that mess-up would be precipitate a full-scale political crisis...

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