Yet his choice is risky – not just for McCain’s campaign but for America’s future. Yesterday McCain celebrated his 72nd birthday; he has a history of skin cancer; if elected, he would be the oldest American ever to serve. Hence, his choice of vice president is critically important because the odds are much higher than normal that such a person would have to assume the office of the presidency.
Sarah Palin has been a governor of state inhabited by more moose than people for twenty months, and before that mayor of a town with a population smaller than two blocks of downtown Manhattan. Although she has barely exercised power, she is already under federal investigation for abuse of it. And while Ms. Palin is perfectly entitled to believe that evolution is a myth, that women should be barred from choosing to have abortions, and that global warming has yet to be proven, these views all run counter to the views of mainstream America.
I’ve been thinking about the so-called judgment issue ever since McCain made this announcement, and I think Reich sums up my problems with Palin very well. McCain has his formula for everything: “a noun, a verb, and ‘prisoner of war.’ ” This is supposed to be the ultimate sign of strength and leadership.
The real question isn’t what he did in the camp but afterwords. Once he was freed, he turned not so much to a life of public service as much as to a life of service to power. His political genius seemed to be knowing how to differ from his political elders just enough to stand out but not enough to be locked out.
Palin seems to fit the pattern well, perhaps accelerated by McCain’s desperation in the face of Obama’s historic campaign. It’s difficult to compete, so McCain pulls the biggest stunt of his career. It may well be his last big stunt; even if he wins, he won’t run again. It says a lot about who he has become.