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Off-topic: vice-presidential vetting

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For Ted Frank completists, the latest GQ has a fun lengthy story profiling my short stint working for the McCain campaign assisting in vice-presidential vetting. The gimmick is that the reporter, Jason Zengerle, submitted himself to a vetting process so he could write about what it felt like to be vetted, and I agreed to engage in that live-action role-playing game; there's a sidebar that has me talk about likely vetting going on of supposed 2012 short-listers. (But just because the press is reporting that someone is on a short-list doesn't mean that someone is on a short-list. In 2008, the press consistently reported false positives and false negatives as fact, rather than speculation.)

I should note that the story exaggerates my importance for dramatic effect. I had no role in the development of the written questionnaire, and didn't send it to any 2008 short-listers; while I was the principal drafter and compiler of the Palin vetting memo, several other lawyers wrote first drafts of sections, and lawyers above me had final cut; and it was the pure happenstance that I was able to drop everything one August weekend that I had the role that I did have. And, while other campaign's vetting processes were also selection processes, in McCain's 2008 campaign, the vetters were independent from the political people selecting the candidate; they played the role of content aggregators, identifying pros and cons, and letting the political people make their own selection. So the "vetters" in McCain 2008 are not the "vetters" of 2000 or 2012, with the same word being used to describe differing concepts.

I'm also amused by the game of telephone that went on with respect to this story: questions about sex are a very small part of vetting, but because they're embarrassing and intrusive, they loom disproportionately large in the GQ story; because they're titillating, they loom even larger in coverage about the GQ story (USA Today; ABC News; MSNBC (which calls me a "Capitol Hill attorney"—again, the facts of the narrative are changed to make a more dramatic story)). And I learned that I look "altogether like a member of the Federalist Society."

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.