Che sera, Sarah?
Major miscalculation. First of all, when you're running a sick old man for president, you make sure to give him a running mate who doesn't scare people. This is why in 1944 the Democrats quietly replaced Henry Wallace with Harry Truman. Wallace was a socialist, which was fine as long as we were pretending to be friends with the Soviet Union, but otherwise not so much. Most people knew little about Truman, and what they knew was mostly wrong. In any case, he didn't worry the voters; and anyone who cared to look could see that Roosevelt was dying.
John McCain is 72. His medical record resembles the federal budget. He can only manage one campaign event a day (to Obama's four or five), and yet he seeks the most stressful job in the world. If he took as many naps as Reagan, as many pills as Nixon and as many vacations as Bush, he might last two years. This necessarily casts a stronger spotlight on his running mate; and this is the best he can do? How many big flat rocks did Rove turn over before settling on Sarah Palin? Of course she can round up the evangelicals like Little Bo-Peep, but where were they going? She's really supposed to attract all those disaffected Hillaristas the media keeps assuring us are out there, seething at their candidate's failure to win the nomination. Do the Republicans really imagine that the millions of men and women who supported Clinton through the primaries will turn to an anti-choice, anti-environment gun nut just because she's female? Can they be hypnotized by the mantra of "glass ceiling, glass ceiling" alongside "POW, POW" until they forget that Geraldine Ferraro broke that barrier twenty-four years ago? Clinton supporters may not be crazy about Barack Obama, but they're not crazy.
Or does John McCain believe all women are dumb cunts who will vote for anything in a skirt?
The Republicans have a tradition of keeping the presidential candidate's coattails clean by giving him a running mate who will get down in the gutter and bite ankles. Eisenhower had Nixon, Nixon had Agnew, and Bush has Cheney. After eight years of viciously faithful service, the nomination should have been Cheney's for the asking, yet he never even formed an "exploratory" committee. Why? Because Cheney is so detested even by his own party that there was no point. (You don't maintain an 18% approval rating unless you're loathed by Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike.) The GOP could have a junkyard dog like Cheney on the ticket because Bush's health was never in question. They can't afford Palin. Neither, it goes without saying, can the rest of us.