Michael Palin for VP!! YEAH! What an inspired pick!
Oh. *Sarah* Palin? Not the Monty Python man? Oh. Okay. That's still, you know, inspiring and whatnot.
I did hear from mudflats that she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska:
And she's been Governor for 20 months.
It's a ludicrous choice, materially and politically, and here's why:
Does this mean that McCain has decided that experience does NOT count? Because, let's be a bit indelicate here: John McCain is 72 years old. John McCain has suffered several bouts of malignant melanoma. John McCain, if he is successful, will be the oldest president to take office in American history. He himself acknowledged in the recent past that his pick for VP would be "of enhanced importance" due to his age. So the very real possibility that Sarah Palin could assume the office of the presidency means that McCain feels she has the background to serve on Day One. Right? Which means that his primary argument--he's untested, inexperienced--against Barack Obama is now unusable. Yeah yeah, "but Obama's the top of the ticket and Palin is the bottom!" See paragraph above wherein John McCain HIMSELF acknowledges that his VP pick vis a vis his age if "of enhanced importance." His words, not mine.
It's politically foolish to give up his experience argument, because I cannot believe that McCain really really wants to spend the next couple of months debating whether being mayor of a town of 8,500 people is more "executive experience" than a Senator from Illinois. I love Barry O, but I can see where people who value "experience" as a primary factor in their selection for POTUS would have questions about his candidacy. By selecting Sarah Palin, McCain thinks he's cut off the Obama camp's ability to call her out for being inexperienced. But what he's done in reality is cut off his own best political argument for the win. As conservative thinker Ramesh Ponnuru says, "Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent that experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins."
But wait! They haven't taken national security off the table. A McCain spokesman said, “As the head of Alaska’s National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Gov. Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops.” Um. ALL governors are the head of their state's national guard. The question is: does the governor get involved in military strategy of the kind that would make her de facto role as "commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard" something you'd list under "national security experience?" I'm guessing not, and I'm saying that this feels a little bit like resume padding.
I recognize that she fires up the evangelical base due to her NRA membership, anti-choice beliefs (even in the case of rape), and her promotion of creationism in public schools. She's precisely what he needs to pull in the religious wing of the party. What I find completely insulting and sad is her use of the "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" meme to try to attract former Hillary Clinton supporters. Hear me now and believe me later: anyone who votes for McCain/Palin and says she was a former HRC supporter is delusional. Because NO ONE who truly supported and believed in HRC's policies and positions could ever find their way to supporting a ticket containing Sarah Palin. It just beggars belief.
What gets me completely incandescent is the notion that I'd vote for someone whose values are diametrically opposed to all I hold dear simply because she has a vagina. I mean, really! I didn't vote for HRC (a woman Sarah Palin called "a whiner") even though it would have been great to have a female president, because I didn't believe she was right for the job. This selection is a rather cynical one in that regard, that somehow women should vote for them because the VP pick is a woman. I'd rather live through 75 years of male presidents than one term of a woman who would force a rape victim to bear a child and who thinks my kid should learn Genesis in her science class. As proud as I am to be what The Daily Show's Samantha Bee called "a Vagina-American," I vote on issues, not on genitalia.
At the same time, this pick does pose some challenges for the Dems. How to go after her record without being seen to bully a woman (see Clinton vs. Lazio for background). How to work around the fact that she's considered a Washington outsider while still painting McCain as more of the same. It's a challenge--and a real one. But there are also opportunities that will become clearer as her selection sinks in, she makes more statements, and conservatives have a chance to really consider what this pick means for the party, for good or for bad. I'd tell the Dems to hold their fire till after the GOP convention and work like hell in the meantime to research her background and develop a solid strategy for beating McCain at his own cynical game. It's too easy to make Quayle comparisons, but I will just say that anyone who discounts the role of the VP as a mere state funeral attendee ought to remember Lyndon Johnson. Harry Truman. Teddy Roosevelt. It matters. It really matters.
Which is the crux of the issue as I see it: no one knows who the hell this person is. The other candidates have been visible for 18 months. We've had 18 months to see how they conduct their campaigns, how they have grown/regressed, how they have handled tough questions. Sarah Palin, if McCain is elected, will be one minute from the Presidency after just 2 months of public scrutiny and 1 debate. That, to me, is more than a little bit disturbing. It's not mavericky. It's hubris.