Have we ever gotten a public explanation about this? It’s so strange that you would think some anodyne excuse would have been offered for the oversight.
But no, as far as I know, the snub was deliberate and the public is invited to understand it as such.
Palin notes correctly that she wasn’t the only veteran of the 2008 campaign not to receive an invite. Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace, and John Weaver were all passed over as well, possibly for leaking to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann for their book “Game Change” about the campaign, possibly for reasons petty or otherwise that remain unknown to the general population. Palin was a target of “Game Change,” though, not a facilitator. And she wasn’t some advisor. She was his running mate. It’s not as if the funeral was a small family ceremony. All of official Washington was there, including the guy who defeated him that year in a speaking role. Why not his would-be VP?
If you hadn’t watched Palin discuss McCain over the years you might think a snub was understandable. They came to embody the two wings of the party, him the centrist establishment, her the pre-Trump reactionary right. Those two wings are bitterly at odds; hard feelings would be expected. But Palin was (almost) always admiring of McCain when asked about him in interviews, focusing on his war heroism. Even in the clip below she strains to exempt him from responsibility for criticizing her and makes a point of urging his critics — ahem — to lay off him now that he’s passed away. It’s barely an exaggeration to say that she’s the only populist in America who won’t trash McCain. The harshest thing I can recall her saying about him was that he was in the “D.C. bubble,” and it’s not as though McCain couldn’t rise above a political jab. Again, he let the man who spent five months savaging him on the trail in 2008 deliver a eulogy for him.
Either there’s unresolved personal drama behind the scenes which we’ll never know about or the snub was symbolic, less a matter of McCain and his family communicating their personal disdain for Palin than them communicating their disdain for the sort of right-wing populism that she mainstreamed. The momentary McCain/Palin alliance was almost as strange in hindsight as if Paul Ryan had run for president and somehow ended up with Sean Hannity as his running mate. It would have been odd amid a crowd of D.C. glitterati at the service for McCain to see Palin sitting there, having spent the last 10 years treating those same people as a collective swamp desperately in need of draining. And yet, on a human level, that’s what the situation seemed to call for: Palin was prepared to pay her respects to a man whom she admired, whatever their political disagreements. Plenty of Democrats were invited despite being in the same boat. Why not her?
Ah well. A fun hypothetical for you: How well would President McCain and VP Palin have gotten along? That is, how much would her populist impulses been suppressed if forced to play second fiddle for Maverick for four or eight years?