I'm still trying to figure out John McCain's choice for vice presidential nominee.
Sarah Palin is undoubtedly savvy, an astute reader of the Red State ethos. And there's no doubt that Palin is tough enough for the sharp elbows and bloody shivs of the political game. Finally, as a sop to those women (and men) who genuinely feel that Hillary Clinton was treated shabbily by her party, Palin provides Republicans an ironic opportunity: The GOP, not those so-called progressives, will put a woman in the White House.
McCain bet the ranch and drew aces.
The only problem? Palin seems less prepared for her position than Dan Quayle.
That's OK, say many of her supporters (most of whom had never heard of Palin until learning of her imminent nomination). She's got heart. She's got values. She speaks her mind. Echos of Ronald Reagan. We're going back to the future!
We've been here before.
Since I've been a voter, I've seen time and time again the values-trumps-competence argument swing the electorate rightward. And with the exception of that horndog Bill Clinton's era in which the deficit was balanced and the economy grew upward, we've seen exploding debt, corruption, and negligence from our leaders, a government not worthy of its name.
More amazingly, those values-voters counting on the GOP to turn the tide on abortion, gay rights, and gun control have gotten precious little for their investment. Yet they still return to the well.
Me? I'd rather support people who can extricate our nation from an endless war, collect sufficient revenues to close the deficit, take a chop to government fraud, waste, and abuse, and take steps to fix our housing mess.
Like most Americans, I don't care about the gender of the persons doing the job. And as an independent, I don’t care about the party in charge. I simply prefer that we hire people who are serious, sober, and honest about the problems we face.
Which brings me back to Sarah Palin. A vice president who will help us manage our relations with the leaders of a complex and oft-unfriendly world needs more than soundbytes and pre-debate cram sessions. Our next vice president should also be able to articulate an opinion about our economy with more nuance than "cut taxes and eliminate red tape." Heck, while I'm shopping, our next vice president should be able to face the tough questions of the press without hiding behind Fox News for cover.
Not to misunderestimate a potentially brilliant leader, but Sarah Palin has a lot to prove.