Its hard to believe that Sarah Palin has been on our collective radar screens for fewer than 100 hours. I’ve been using up too much of my (brief) pre-Fall vacation trolling for Palin bulletins and fear that she might be replaced by a more sensible VP choice, like Tom Ridge, before I compose anything. Among my favorite Palin postings from the last few days:
Andrew Sullivan has been all over Palin; among his initial reactions:
What it says about McCain is that he is more interested in politics than policy, more interested in campaigning than governing, tactical when he should be strategic, and reckless when he should be considered. He is as big a gamble as president as Palin is as vice-president. This decision was about gut, about politics, about cynicism, and about vanity. It’s Bushism metastasized.
Nate Silver (who has gone from being one of my favorite nerd baseball writers to be a sharp political blogger):
[W]e are in completely uncharted territory here. Palin is the most manifestly ordinary person ever to be nominated for a major party ticket. In this year of bittergate and Britney-gate and McCain-has-seven-houses-gate, that could conceivably be a virtue; it’s certainly less tone-deaf than a selection like Mitt Romney would have been. But Palin isn’t merely playing at being ordinary, the way that Bill Clinton (Rhodes Scholar) or George W. Bush (son of a president) or Hillary Clinton (wife of a president) might. She really, really comes across that way — like someone who had won a sweepstakes or an essay contest. Her authenticity factor is off-the-charts good; her biography sings. But do Americans really want their next-door-neighbor running for Vice President, or rather someone who seems like one?
[T]o my gut instinct, I think Americans can feel sympathy for Sarah Palin, can believe she’s the sort of person they’d want to have a beer with — and still find her a detriment to McCain’s case for the White House.
The Center for Public Integrity has the Palins’ 2007 financial disclosure form (they own only 3 houses), and notes that “The biggest chunk of her war chest in the 2006 governor’s race came from party committees, retirees, and civil servants.”
Probably the most depressing thing about Palin is not her selection but the defense of it.
Former Bush speechwriter David Frum:
So this is the future of the Republican party you are looking at: a future in which national security has bumped down the list of priorities behind abortion politics, gender politics, and energy politics. Ms. Palin is a bold pick, and probably a shrewd one. It’s not nearly so clear that she is a responsible pick, or a wise one.
The point isn’t that Palin is stupid–it isn’t even neccessarily Palin. The point is that a strategy that seeks to make an issue out of Honest Tea and arugula, to preach intelligent design as science, to claim govenorship of Alaska as foreign policy is dishonest and an appeal to ignorance. Palin’s intelligence is beside the point–equating intelligent design with evoloution is either, on its face, ignorance or an appeal to ignorance. Arguing that arugula consumption should have something to do with presidency is either ignorance–or an appeal to it.
[McCain] has demonstrated hubris well beyond anything Obama has displayed on his most arrogant day: a belief that he can master unforeseen circumstances, physical and otherwise, that are well beyond his control.
Let’s assume that Sarah Palin is exactly as smart and disciplined as Barack Obama. But instead of the year and a half of nonstop campaigning he has behind him, and Joe Biden’s even longer toughening-up process, she comes into the most intense period of the highest stakes campaign with absolutely zero warmup or preparation. If she has ever addressed an international issue, there’s no evidence of it in internet-land.
Christopher Orr makes the case for Palin, quoting an unnamed Alaskan friend:
[S]he is a true political savant; a candidate with a knack for identifying the key gripes of the populace and packaging herself as the solution. That keen political nose has enabled her to routinely outperform her resume…Sarah Palin is a living reminder that the ultimate source of political power in this country is not the Kennedy School or the Davos Summit or an Ariana Huffington salon; even now, power emanates from the electorate itself.