By now I’m sure you have heard that John McCain has chosen Alaska governor Sarah “Teach the Controversy” Palin to be his running mate. I think The New Republic has the most sensible take, by Peter Scoblic:
But surely a campaign that has been charged with being too naive to manage rogue state dictators can have a bit of fun with the idea that a one-time Miss Congeniality could effectively face down Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or Kim Jong Il. Surely, Obama’s “eight is enough” quip ought to apply not only to President Bush’s economic and foreign policy travesties, but to the elevation of mediocrity that has characterized his appointment of Michael Brown to FEMA and his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. And surely we can agree that if the McCain campaign was desperate to transparently court voters put off by Hillary Clinton’s loss, there is no dearth of women with far greater intellectual, executive, and political abilities–abilities that would allow them to assume the presidency in a heartbeat.
That’s the conclusion. Go read the whole thing.
By any objective standard this is a terrible pick for precisely the reason Scoblic gives. There is no way she is ready to handle the Presidency. Obviously, though, the McCain folks have done the necessary cynical calculations and have decided that such charms as everyone says she has will be useful to the campaign. And since we have learned that Republicans don’t really take seriously the business of governing, it probably never even occurred to them to worry about her credentials.
Biden’s in trouble. Palin will have Quayle-like expectations on her in the debates. (Of course, Quayle himself underperformed his own very low expectations, but Dukakis was far too weak a candidate for that to matter.) She only needs to get through without a major gaffe to get favorable coverage. From the other side, there is already a media script on Biden: specifically that he tends to put his foot in his mouth. If he says anything, anything, that can be tortured into that script the pundits will pounce.
And if Biden does wipe her out in the debate, the Republicans will shamelessly play the chivalry card. The same press corps that gleefully and relentlessly went after Hillary Clinton in grotesquely sexist terms will turn on a dime and parrot Republican talking points about how the Democrats are beating up on a woman. They will do grimly serious segments in which right-wing mouth-breathers, red in the ears with phony outrage, take on hapless “Democratic strategists” who will find themselves unable to apologize fast enough for Biden’s boorish behavior. This, while a tag line reading, “Is Joe Biden a Raving Sexist?” appears at the bottom of the screen.
I have believed for some time now that McCain is likely to win this race. I have not decided yet whether that likelihood has increased or decreased with this pick.