UPDATE: Daily Kos has up a diary that alleges Sarah Palin may have links to the Dominionist theocratic movement. Something I'll investigate more thoroughly in the coming weeks.
I'll repeat what I've said elsewhere. If John McCain thinks that picking Sarah Palin as his running mate will seal the deal with disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters, it's patronizing and insulting. The reason is that Palin is anti-abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, a view that most women don't support. And supporters of Hillary tend to be the most pro-choice. We also still don't know what Sarah Palin thinks of universal health care but if she agrees with John McCain and the rest of the GOP, then it's the antithesis of what Hillary Clinton spent a lifetime fighting for. Where does Ms. Palin stand on the Fair Pay Act, also known as the Lilly Ledbetter Act, after the Gadsen, Alabama woman who sued Goodyear for paying her less than her male colleagues over a lifetime on the job and lost her case in the Roberts Supreme Court? I'm pretty sure that Hillary Clinton is for the principle of equal pay for equal work.
Just as troubling as McCain's and possibly Palin's lack of support for the issues that really matter to women and directly affect the quality of their lives is the fact that McCain had a bench of experienced, qualified women in the Republican Party that he could have picked. They would have been equally historic, would have shaken up the election, and stolen Obama's thunder going out of a hugely successful convention just as well as Palin did. The mere fact of choosing a woman would have accomplished that. Here's a list of some of the choices he bypassed. They include Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Texas), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine), Governors Linda Lingle (Hawaii), and Jodi Rell (Connecticut). There's also Christy Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, and Condi Rice.
GOP pundits and bloggers will argue that most of those women, though worthy Republicans, are pro choice. And they are right.
I suspect that McCain's camp actually knows they are not going to get that many women who supported Clinton. Ok, maybe a few of the most deranged of the PUMAs. But not enough to turn even a close election. Just as they know they are not really going to get a whole lot of union members and rank and file working people just because McCain shows up at an auto factory and says that he's concerned about their jobs. More and more working people know that Republican policies don't really help them much and that the factory appearances and pitches to them are really pro forma.
Part of the reason McCain picked Palin was precisely to prevent the Democrats from getting too big a post-election bump coming out of their convention by dominating the next day's news cycle. That was a brilliant tactic. Gotta give his advisors credit for that. But the other reason was to shore up the Evangelical base. After all, there had been talk that a few younger, hipper evangelicals from the Emerging Church movement were flirting with the Obama camp. For McCain to lose some of them would be disastrous, as would having social conservatives simply sit out the election. Picking Palin was a pitch to them not to progressive and moderate women.
It was also a brilliant move.
Now, though, McCain and Palin will still have to run in the rest of the country on their issues, the same failed policies that have brought this nation to the brink of economic disaster and harmed ordinary working people for the past eight years. In addition, McCain, who yesterday officially became the oldest American to run for president, will have to explain why he picked somebody with so little experience in foreign policy and national security to be just a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Unlike Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro, whom Palin paid gracious tribute to, Palin doesn't have the accomplishment, knowledge and experience to be in the position McCain has put her in. That's not an unfair attack on her. She may well be an intelligent, competent woman. But she's not ready to be a prime time player just yet. Any of the GOP women I mentioned above would have been.
People will argue that the choice of a vice presidential running mate doesn't matter that much. And usually they'd be right. But this time, with a 72 year old cancer survivor it does. And as the first test of McCain's judgment it's a brilliant failure.