It was an excellent political move for John McCain to announce his selection for vice president yesterday, bumping the other top political story -- Barack Obama's acceptance speech culminating a Democratic National Convention that seemed to unify and re-energize his candidacy -- from web sites and television. The choice of Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, was also a rather big surprise and a historic one, too. The conservative mother of five may give some evangelical Christians a reason to go to the polls on Nov. 4 to vote for McCain, a prospect that a number of them had not seemed thrilled about up to now.
However, when analyzing Palin's selection with regard to what it says about McCain's judgment, one cannot help but conclude that this was a terrible -- almost laughable -- decision. Is the GOP nominee really telling us that this is the best potential VP in the entire party? Does he actually believe that this former beauty queen and self-described "hockey mom" will be ready on Jan. 20 to assume the powers of the presidency should the need arise?
To those who say this is a sexist position, I say not true. Hillary Clinton would have been ready. Condoleezza Rice would have been ready. Even if McCain had picked, for example, Kay Baily Hutchison, a US Senator from Texas who I cannot stomach, my argument against her would not be that she is not prepared to be president. And to those who say that Obama is similarly unprepared, I also say not true. Whether one agrees with the positions of the Democratic nominee or not, there should be little debate -- despite McCain's foolish attacks of Obama being all flash and no substance -- that this is a man of gravitas. The Illinois senator is extremely bright, hard working and serious, and has spent much time involved in the substance of national and international issues, both as a US Senator and during his presidential campaign.
Newsweek today described Palin as "a cross between a Fox anchor and a character on Northern Exposure," the early '90s TV show about the residents of a quirky town in Alaska. While she has had some notable highlights in her career -- standing up to the Republican Party in her own state to blow the whistle on corruption -- the 44-year-old evangelical Protestant believes that global climate change is a hoax and that creationism should be taught in public schools. We've had enough of this backwards thinking in Washington for eight years with the Bush cult. Palin, whose husband works for oil giant BP, is in favor of drilling on public land and opposed to listing the polar bear as an endangered species. She's also under investigation in Alaska for abuse of power.
Palin's only chance in her October debate with Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden is that the expectations for her will be so low that should she exit the hall still able to speak it would be considered a victory. McCain, one can only surmise, is desperate to shake up the presidential race. Despite the big banner that said "Country First" at yesterday's rally in Ohio where Palin was introduced, it seems clear that he has put the interests of his own political campaign ahead of what would be best for the nation. Is this the judgment that America needs? If he wins in November, it'll be despite, not because of, this huge blunder.