It's a girl!

So the rampant speculation about all of those establishment white guys as running mates was just a smokescreen. As I speculated yesterday John McCain has deployed Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his stealth weapon.

Are we seeing some kind of weird Republican affirmative action? Yes siree. With less than a term as governor under her belt, Palin lacks experience, it’s true. But her track record is pretty unassailable; she’s proven to be a tough operator, willing to take on oil companies. Anyway, the Dems would be dumb to drum on that point, given that inexperience is the criticism commonly used against Obama. How Palin will square off against Joe Biden during the VP candidate debate is another big question mark. But her presence will make it must-see TV. More importantly, Palin brings fresh bounce to the McCain campaign; she’ll redirect media focus from Obama to thrall over her Northern Exposure existence: She flies a floater plane! She eats mooseburgers!

By appointing her McCain gets to appear less the dinosaur perplexed by the internet, more the guy who gets that there’s an appetite for change (even if the old rules appear entrenched). And, pathetic as it is, he’ll be given props for finally putting a woman on the GOP ticket (and only 88 years since women in the U.S. had the vote!). Naming the pro-life mother of five is also a masterstroke in that it permitted McCain to forego that other “progressive” move he had up his sleeve: naming a pro-choice male, which would have sparked party mutiny.

Suddenly, the race becomes a lot more interesting. McCain turns 72 today. If he’s elected and unable to finish his term, Sarah Palin would be the first female U.S president whether America was ready or not.

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