You'll have to forgive me in advance for this one, I'm pulling no punches.
The media today is describing John McCain's selection of 44-year-old Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate as a "shake up" of the campaign. I agree completely. "Shake up" is what a desperate coach does to a boxer who's been pummeled so badly he threatens to collapse in the next round.
McCain's cheap, flailing selection of Palin certainly provided the media with plenty of flash - a flash in the pan. And a flash of the political middle finger to the country.
The Rovian calculations behind the decision to make her McCain's running mate are so transparent, so plainly insulting to the intelligence of the American people, it is one of the few things McCain could have done to actually make himself look even smaller and more petty in the wake of the Democratic National Convention and Barack Obama's history-making speech.
Does McCain, and whoever counseled him to make such a frivolous choice, really hold women in such low regard that he thinks they will automatically flock to his ticket merely because it has a female on it, despite the fact that this woman is staunchly anti-choice, and even favors teaching creationism in the classroom?
Do they have such a low opinion of Hillary Clinton supporters that they expect those supporters to defect in sufficient numbers solely to see a woman - any woman - become Vice President, despite the fact that she would likely be one of the most ignored and purely symbolic Vice Presidents since Dan Quayle, rendering completely empty the fact that a woman occupies that position?
Is the McCain campaign now so blatantly beholden to the radically fundamentalist religious right that they would rather send out a crass signal of their devotion to that backwards movement than ensure that the person who would take McCain's place is even remotely qualified for the most important and consequential office in the nation?
It will be easy for many to dismiss as trivial John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin to be his VP running mate, but in fact his decision was quite profound. Indeed, he decided today to make his sneering, opportunistic contempt for the American people indisputable and unmistakable, once and for all. Perhaps more importantly, however, McCain demonstrated yet again that his first instinct when presented with a challenging choice is to act recklessly and without any regard whatsoever for the potential consequences of his actions.
This is not a joke, but the actual statement of Lisa Schiffren, speechwriter to Vice President Dan Quayle:
My first response to the Palin choice was to say "Yaaay!" -- and to call my daughters to the TV. The GOP rarely hits those emotional chords -- or makes the edgier choice -- but John McCain has done it big-time by partnering with a young woman who worked her way up to the governorship of Alaska while happily married and raising five (!) children.
It is hard to imagine a more compelling choice for this election. She brings sizzle and energy the GOP ticket would have lacked with another white guy. Palin also highlights McCain's substantive commitment to real political change; to small government; and to actually cutting spending.
Barack Obama says that change comes to Washington, not from it. But Palin has already changed the way things are done. She has vigorously cut pork. She personally stopped the "Bridge to Nowhere." She has been tough on ethical lapses. At a moment when energy issues are central, Palin has been a forceful advocate of drilling in ANWR; that she is a hunter, a conservationist and Alaskan gives her street cred on the environmental aspect of this issue. She is a serious athlete -- and we shouldn't underestimate her willingness to hit hard.
McCain, the presidential nominee, has plenty of foreign policy experience -- the preferred order for a ticket. Palin might not win a debate with Joe Biden, but GOP voters look for action and forgive a lack of rhetorical elegance.
Talk about a role model for our daughters: Annie Oakley in the halls of power! With a newborn . . . and a son serving in Iraq. I am giddy!
John McCain truly has the distinction of being even more deeply unserious and cynical than George W. Bush.
It would be a clear sign from the McCain campaign that they were going to be making a very strong bid for the women whom they see up for grabs -- both the traditional, swing independent suburbanites and then the Hillary Clinton supporters who remain disillusioned.
This decision was about as crass and transparent as one gets. Lest anyone dismiss this as obvious and unsurprising for a highly cynical McCain campaign, remember that not everyone will instantly regard it as such, and the narrative must be permitted to coagulate in the public's perception while the decision is still fresh.