Ah, gotta love when operatives start straying from their talking points. Former Reagan-era Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation yesterday to chat about his support for John McCain, and given his strong interest in foreign affairs, most of the discussion stayed squarely in that arena. But just under fifteen minutes into the interview, host Neal Conan asked Eagleburger about his comfort with McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his veep, and the answer is really priceless. (This transcript, and the emphasis in it, is my own; I’ve also sliced the bit out of the recording so you can hear it.)

[audio player]

Neal: You mentioned, obviously, experience; are you entirely comfortable with Sarah Palin as Vice President of the United States, that she would be ready to take over in a crisis if she should, terribly, be called upon to do so?
Eagleburger: That’s a very good question… [three second pause] I’m being facetious here. Look, I don’t… of course not. I don’t think, at the moment, she would be as prepared to take over the reins of the Presidency. I can name for you any number of other Vice Presidents who were not particularly up to it, either. So the question, I think, is: can she learn, and would she be tough enough under the circumstances if she were asked to become President. Heaven forbid that that ever takes place. Give her some time in the office, and I think that the answer would be, she will be… adequate. I can’t say she would be genius in the job, but I think she would be enough to get us through a four-year — well, I hope not — get us through whatever period of time was necessary, and I devoutly hope it would never be tested.

That’s probably not exactly what McCain had in mind when he envisioned his supporters going out and talking to the media about his choices…

(Note: I’ve listened to the interview a bunch of times, trying to figure out if Eagleburger said that she’s unprepared to take over the “reins” or the “brains” of the Presidency — and I’m fairly certain, from my listening, that he said “brains”, but every other person who transcribed it got “reins”, so I’m willing to go that way for now…)