The longer I think about it, the less well this selection sits with me. And I increasingly doubt that it will prove good politics. The Palin choice looks cynical. The wires are showing.
John McCain wanted a woman: good.
He wanted to keep conservatives and pro-lifers happy: naturally.
He wanted someone who looked young and dynamic: smart.
And he discovered that he could not reconcile all these imperatives with the stated goal of finding a running mate qualified to assume the duties of the presidency "on day one."
Sarah Palin may well have concealed inner reservoirs of greatness. I hope so! But I'd guess that John McCain does not have a much better sense of who she is, what she believes, and the extent of her abilities than my enthusiastic friends over at the Corner. It's a wild gamble, undertaken by our oldest ever first-time candidate for president in hopes of changing the board of this election campaign. Maybe it will work. But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance.
Here's I fear the worst harm that may be done by this selection. The McCain campaign's slogan is "country first." It's a good slogan, and it aptly describes John McCain, one of the most self-sacrificing, gallant, and honorable men ever to seek the presidency.
But question: If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?And here's a link to my National Post column on the choice.