Jon Meacham Snidely Suggests McCain Considered Offing Unprepared Palin

Appearing on Thursday's "Today" show Newsweek editor Jon Meacham suggested Sarah Palin needed a "Berlitz" course in foreign policy and even snidely implied John McCain, like President Andrew Jackson before him, may have wanted to shoot his vice president. Meacham, who was also plugging his book on Jackson, noted to "Today" co-host Matt Lauer that Jackson once threatened the life his own vice president, and postulated that maybe McCain may have considered that as an option.

MATT LAUER: He's also a guy who threatened to kill his own vice president, isn't he?

MEACHAM: He did. Which a McCain/Palin thing-

LAUER: But we don't hold that, it doesn't make him a bad guy.

MEACHAM: I don't know if Senator McCain has thought that, along the way.

Before the Jackson discussion Lauer, set up Meacham about Palin's readiness, "She didn't impress a lot of people with her knowledge of domestic affairs or foreign affairs." To which Meacham sarcastically agreed: "Ya think? Ya think?" and added the Alaska governor should "be going into a kind of policy Berlitz course, which one would think would be a relatively sound thing to do."

The following is a complete transcript of the segment as it occurred on the November 13, "Today" show:

MATT LAUER: Jon Meacham is the editor of Newsweek magazine and the author of a new book, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Hey Jon, good morning to you.

JON MEACHAM: How are you sir?

LAUER: I'm fine, thanks. Your magazine ran a poll of conservatives it came out with 50-50, as the shot that Sarah Palin will be the Republican nominee in 2012. What do you see as her future?

MEACHAM: Well, politics is about ideas. So she needs, it's, it's about the apostle but it's also about the creed. And right now she's the most interesting apostle on the Republican side. But what, what is her argument gonna be? And comeback politics is about a critique of the incumbent crowd. So the Republicans have to find a way to criticize Obama without looking as though they are simply relentlessly negative and whether she can find that tone or not I'm not sure.

LAUER: But isn't "comeback politics" also about improving some resume items that seemed weak the first time around? And she didn't impress a lot of people with her knowledge of domestic affairs or foreign affairs? How does she go about improving that?

MEACHAM: Ya think? Ya think?

LAUER: I don't want, I don't want to state the case here.

MEACHAM: No.

LAUER: But how does she go about improving that?

MEACHAM: It is interesting that she spent this time talking to a lot of folks about the campaign and does not seem, at this point, to be going into a kind of a policy Berlitz course, which one would think would be a relatively sound thing to do. She's got some time. She's clearly someone who understands star power. And politics is often about celebrity. But the celebrity only gets you so far. And I think we saw that in the campaign. She can bring in the crowds, but that follow-up question was very hard.

LAUER: Real quickly, transition time, Barack Obama looking at his cabinet and his staff. A lot of people speculating as to whether Hillary Clinton might be part of the team. What do you think?

MEACHAM: I don't know, obviously, but I think that probably Senator Clinton is gonna be Senator Clinton.

LAUER: Stay there.

MEACHAM: I would think so. And there is a great noble tradition here. Daniel Webster, Henry Clay. There are great senators. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. And I think that you got to have strong people there in the Senate.

LAUER: Andrew Jackson, which is the subject you've written about, going back to my high school history and maybe middle school history, seventh President of the United States, hero in the War of 1812. You also say there are parallels though, between Andrew Jackson and what we're about to see in Washington. What are they?

MEACHAM: Well imagine a candidate of change coming to rule after the unpopular son of another president, at a time of economic uncertainty, with a powerful democratic lower case "d" connection to a core of very motivated supporters. And it sounds kind of familiar.

LAUER: Right.

MEACHAM: That's exactly what happened to Andrew Jackson in 1829. He's, he was a democratic leader. He was the President who really made our politics what they are, a kind of popular leader, someone who communicated with his base. And who wanted to give the people a central voice in the politics of the country as long as he was always at center stage articulating that voice.

LAUER: He's also a guy who threatened to kill his own vice president, isn't he?

MEACHAM: He did. Which a McCain/Palin thing-

LAUER: But we don't hold that, it doesn't make him a bad guy.

MEACHAM: I don't know if Senator McCain has thought that, along the way.

LAUER: Alright.

MEACHAM: But he was also the only President who to ever try to attack his own assassin.

LAUER: Okay. But, but as always we can learn about the future by delving into the past. And, and your book is a good example of that. John, good to have you here.

MEACHAM: Thank you sir.

LAUER: And the book is American Lion and you can check out probably an excerpt on our Web site.


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