Katie Couric wrapped up her presidential questions series last night by asking both candidates when was the last time they fired someone who worked for them and why. This was McCain's answer:
Well, we had to make a change in our campaign. It was going in the wrong direction. We knew we had serious problems in our campaign and the way it was being managed. And that will be well chronicled in the books that are written after this election. But, it wasn't easy and it wasn't fun. And I still value the friendship of the people who left our campaign. And it was just that we needed a different direction. It certainly wasn't anything that had to do with personal differences.
That seems straightforward enough, but here's the thing: McCain didn't actually fire John Weaver and Terry Nelson; rather, he promoted their rival Rick Davis over them and then left it to them to resign. That might seem like a small difference, but it actually speaks to McCain's remarkably passive management style.
And it might shed some light on a question that was puzzling some of us about a month ago, when Davis--who'd been demoted in July in favor of Steve Schmidt--was the subject of a series of damning stories about the lobbying he did for Fannie Me and Freddie Mac. The question was, how on earth did Davis still have a job with the McCain campaign? He'd already been stripped of his responsibilities and now all he seemed to be doing for the campaign was earning it bad press. And yet McCain let him stick around. Maybe it was loyalty on McCain's part. Or maybe Davis--unlike Weaver and Nelson--simply couldn't take a hint.