I’m beginning to revise my initial reaction to John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin for VP. I still think it makes it harder to play the “experience” card against Obama, and find it distressing that both parties should put such greenhorns on their tickets at a time when the United States faces such enormous challenges. But there’s a strategic cleverness to the pick that I did not at first appreciate.
One, judging by the largely ecstatic reaction in the conservative blogosphere, McCain has at a stroke made peace with the Republican right, yet in a way that does not wave a red flag in front of moderates and independents.
Two, he has picked a candidate who reinforces his themes of cross-partisanship and integrity, a pork- and corruption-fighter who has more than once taken on her own party establishment. Appealing both to the base and to cross-over voters with the same choice is a neat trick.
And three, she’s a woman — a woman, moreover, who defies easy categorization: a basketball-playing, moose-hunting beauty queen, a pro-life feminist, a chief executive and mother of five, a Caprasque everywoman who looked not the least bit intimidated at being so suddenly thrust onto the national stage.
But still… I love Mr. Smith Goes to Washington as much as the next fellow, but he was a senator, not a potential president. The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard was fun, but it was a TV show. Could this woman really be president? Could Obama? Doesn’t experience count for anything?