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Picking Palin: McCain's Folly, or "crazy like a fox"?

John McCain has certainly revived his maverick label bypicking--or plucking from obscurity--freshmanAlaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. (WaPo coverage here, and NYT coverage here.) Like every candidate, there are pluses and minuses.

On the plus side, Christian conservatives (as God-o-Meter knows and shows), are going to be delighted with Palin. She is a self-described "hockey mom" who is pro-life and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. She is a moose-hunting mother of five, her latest--born just last April--has Down syndrome, and she wouldnever consider abortion, which she opposes personally and as a legal option. She has bucked the scandal-plagued GOP establishment in Alaska, and has shown a mild green streak without really undermining her state's interests in mining and Big Oil. She is against taxes (except, apparently, when it came to building stuff in her own town), and against gay marriage. Check, check, check.She is a sweetheart, a 44-year-old fresh face who is as far outside the Beltway as you can possibly get without being Russian. And she is so attractive the Obama camp will have to be careful not to look like they're bullying her, or patronizing her.And those things are also major risks in the general election. Will someone like Palin really pull in those supposedly disaffected Hillary supporters? Not likely, not after Bill's show-stopping speech and policy differences between Palin voters and Hillary voters.Moreover, how can the McCain camp work the "inexperienced" wedge against Obama when Sarah Palin will be a heartbeat away from an Oval Office that would be occupied by John McCain, who would be the oldest man ever elected president? She has less than two years as governor, and before that the sum total of her governing experience was as mayor of Wasilla, a town of less than 7,000.If Obama has been painted as little more than a good-looking Esquire cover guy, how about Palin, a former beauty queen who was runner-up in 1984 as Miss Alaska? Some will think McCain picked his daughter, others his third wife. (What is it with Republicans and beauty pageants, anyway?) Palin is sharper than Dan Quayle, but still...Imagine the Biden-Palin VP debate. Voters want change, but they also want ballast. And they want someone who can step in. Sure, Palin is a wonderfulmom. But she is the mother of FIVE, and the last a special needs infant born just FOUR MONTHS ago. She'll have to haveMary Poppins and a couple Super Nannys with911on speed-dial if she hopes to fill the 24/7 job as Vice-President.Her environmental cred may not stretch too far, either. Check out the dissection by the HuffPost's Chris Kellyof her Polar Bear record and her JanuaryNYTimes op-ed in which she said all was well with the big critters. Now that the polar bears are actually swimming across hundreds of miles of open water looking for receding ice floes, you can imagine the video in the camapign ads to come.And while she has a reputation as a whistle-blower on ethics, she is also under investigation for a firing and other machinations related to penalties against her estranged ex-brother-in-law, astate trooper. Add to that the fact that the dominant Republican Party in Alaska is a cesspool of scandals and indictments, and Palin's odor of sanctity may not endure.So what does the choice of Palin say toall those "new" evangelicals? Will her fresh faceattract them? Or will she come across as the oldreligious rightin a new guise? Palin could prove to be McCain's salvation, and a necessary gamble given his own weaknesses. (Funny, McCain's people were saying the other day that the choice of Biden pointed up Obama's weaknesses, and did not compensate for them...) But the audacity (nice word) of his choice could also smack of desperation.My sense is that the positives balance out the negatives, yetMcCain can't afford a "wash" in terms of gains and losses.Palin will reassure the Religious Right, and surely draw in those voters, especially Christian "soccer moms," who see her as "one of us," only with a hockey stick. But with all voters growing in their suspicion ofthe use of religion in politics, as shown by the latest Pew poll, Palin's best weapon may be firing blanks.PS: I wasn't sure, but it's pronounced PAY-lin.We'll all know that soon enough.(Cross-posted with Progressive Revival.)


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I know that the NRO crowd love her. But they're part of the progressive religious right (if I can add a new term). How many of the rank-and-file who constitute part of the Religious Right actually believe women should be in political leadership roles --particularly commander in chief of the armed forces? A wife and mother of five leaving her family to do this job--will that actually sit well with social conservatives on the ground? My tour of conservative catholic pro-family blogs didn't exactly suggest a broad belief that women with lots of kids ought to have demanding jobs too.Or has feminism really permeated the country to this extent?I think this is good news for Senator Obama. I don't think it will help with the religious right (rank and file), it's not going to swing Hilary supporters, and the worries about whether she can step into McCain's shoes should he prematurely leave them behind are significant. Jean Raber, how will this play with your fundamentalist relatives?

Don't kid yourselves--although the Democrats are already saying that this lays to rest the issue of "inexperience" (which they never before acknowledged), the American people are smart enough to know that the Denmocrats have put the inexperienced one at the head of their ticket while the Republic ticket is led by the very experienced McCain ... meanwhile, Palin has been mayor of a small town and is a highly respected reform-minded governor who holds a roughly 90-percent apporoval rating in her state. Her personal story is also compelling: "hockey mom" mother of 5 including one son in the army who is heaidng to Iraq on Sept. 11 (thus negating any benefit that Obama/Biden could hope for from Biden's son's upcoming tour of duty there ... plus tragically her youngesty child has Down syndrome, which will definitely resonate with married women across the nation .. add in a certain number of Hillary supporters who feel their candidate was "dissed" by not being vetted, as well as many women voters (except for the hard-core abortionites) who will see this as the year to support a woman candidate and it all looks VERY good for McCain/PalinWhat's Biden going to do: lecture a woman about abortion?

Cathleen said: "How many of the rank-and-file who constitute part of the Religious Right actually believe women should be in political leadership roles particularly commander in chief of the armed forces?"I understand most here have very stong personal feelings regarding Senator Obama, so let me preface what I am about to say that in no way whatsoever do I mean to make any value judgements whatsoever regarding his character, his family, race, creed, or anything whatsoever. The following are my own opinions only and are not meant to reflect anything other than that. That being said, while I am certainly not a fundamentalist, I think, certainly with respect to the judicial and cultural issues, as a subscriber to First Things, inter alia, I would be considered by many here to be a member of the Religious Right. That said, I would say, again, speaking only for myself and making no value judgements regarding Serator Obama whatsoever, I personally can personally tell you (1) given my perception of the two Democratic Senators' views on the Constitution - the role of government versus individuals acting collectively through exercise of their individual liberty, (2) my perception of the Democratic Senators' views on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, people with disabilities, and euthanasis, (3) my perception of Senator Biden's handling of the Justice Thomas and Robert Bork confirmation hearings, (4) my perception of Senator McCain's voting reccord regarding abortion, (5) my perception of McCain family's adoption of a handicap child from Mother Theresa's orphanage, (6) my perception of Governor Palin's opposition to abortion, and (6) my perception Governor's decision to raise a child with Down syndrom, that I am extremely enthused about this selection. The above is only representative of my personal opinions and is based on my personal perceptions (which I freely admit may be very, very wrong) and again, in no way, is meant to cast any value judgements on Senator Obama.Therefore, returning to the title of the posting, speaking for myself, I see it more as "crazy like a fox".

As an outsider, who predicted Palin I think it was a wise move. The reality is that the federal gov't is in fact broke. It sounds like a slogan but it is true (true in Canada too). There needs to be fundamental change in the way business is conducted.I thought Palin's line about declineing the bridge to nowhere was spot on. I think that the Democrats have to be very careful in their criticism as there is a strong contingency of elites governing the party (although I don't consider Obama and elite I am not sure he is grounded enough not to be seduced by them). I like Obama and think that he should hold his own counsel. The Clinton's it needs to be said are a liability to the party.And DAvid give me a break about the vp role. Clinton was president and had time to sleep with the help engage in phone sex and who knows what else (ON WORK TIME).If I were in the US I would be an undecided at this point. I watched the convention and thought Obama had a great speech. Tough, resolved, hopeful, full of heart. He does seem like a good man. Biden seems like a good man too.I grew up in the north and just happened to see Palin with a rifle in one picture. You can tell that there was confidence and no problem with it. I really believe she has been hunting (unlike Kerry four years ago).Bottom line if I was in the US i would agree that there needs to be change. Real change, real fundamental change and that is going to take strength. The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour so the record is important. Palin's resume is thin but it does appear that she does have more of a record on reform than Obama or even Biden.But Obama does have the gift to move a nation. Might need a workhorse in there though.Anyway,,,,colour me undecided......

In terms of experience, I don't think Palin is as risky a choice as some might think. It is an "enter at your own peril" zone for Obama to criticize Palin for a lack of experience. And the argument itself has too many contingencies as it goes, "IF McCain dies while in office, this woman who has about as much experience as Obama will become president. So vote for me instead?" Obama offers the inverse ticket with the presidential nominee having little experience and the vp nominee having a heck of a lot. In the end I think the order people are more comfortable with is the one McCain has gone for.

I don't think it's a choice between folly and "crazy like a fox." Sarah Palin seems to be an attractive candidate to me. From the little I know of her biography, she seems to have been active in the pro-life movement before she was in politics, and to use a cliche, she hasn't just talked the talk, she's walked the walk. (Even Bill Mazella will find it difficult to claim she doesn't really care about the issue!) She has the advantage of being a Republican who actually had to fight the Republican Party in Alaska to get elected. As I said elsewhere, I think a Palin-McCain ticket would be more attractive than a McCain Palin ticket. Having said that, I would also have to say that I can't think of a realistic situation that would result in me voting Republicans into the White House. If there are disgruntled Hillary supporters out there who will now vote for McCain because he has chosen a woman as his running mate, I cannot even begin to imagine what is going on inside their heads, if anything.

i was away for 2 weeks. where did all these ???? come from. I'm outa here til after ter election.

Okay--which undecided demographic groups does she help with?

I think it is an unfortunate choice, even though I suspect Gov Palin is someone with whom I agree on most things. She would be a good choice - in 8 years or so. In fact, the more I read about her, I could see a Jindal-Palin or Palin-Jindal in 2016 as pretty appealing.Given her shallow experience, it seems like he is playing the dem's game with identity politics. But that shouldn't be a surprise - it's vintage McCain.The idea that conservatives - even the Religious Right (whatever that means) - won't vote for a woman is based a narrow and stereotypical view. Ask conservatives who their top 10 favorite political figures of the last 50 years are and you will see a lot of Maggie Thatchers and Golda Maiers on those lists. I don't think conservatives have nearly the angst that liberals think they do with this issue. So it won't hurt him with conservatives, especially given her track record on the issues.I agree it won't help him with most Hillary voters, but it might with some. There are a lot of women out there who were voting for her simply because she is a woman - I certainly know some.Even though this might blunt the experience issue for McCain, that the Obama camp is already using this as an attack angle themselves is a hoot. As little experience as she has, it is at least as much as Obama, and in my opinion more qualifying than his (since apparently she actually has been performing her job - not easy to vote absent when you are in charge). And - by the way - she is at least running for Vice President.As for polar bears - must not be too critical a situation since there are more now than in years, and their numbers continue to grow - swimming videos, notwithstanding. The sturm und drang about them is based on questionable studies (including early predictions that haven't proven correct) that their populations may decrease in the future due to global warming. Another good example of not letting the facts get in the way of a good (and growingly profitable) theory.

Okay. . . it's a narrow and stereoptypical view to say that religious right voters won't vote for a woman just because she's a woman but to say women will vote for a woman just because she's a woman is. . . just fine. . because. . .why?To suspect that some members of the religious right might actually have a problem with women in leadership roles, when an important strand of their normative teaching runs in that direction is not to trade in stereotypes. . . it's taking seriously the way the Bible is interpreted in that setting, and the implications of that interpretation for public authority. If you believe that God created men to be leaders, and women to be followers, men to be active, women to be passive, men to be tough, women to be nurturers, then it stands to reason you're likely to have a problem with a woman commander in chief. So I'd like to see some polling data --not of highly educated Eastern elite conservatives, but of the Bible Belt voters. To say that women are going to vote for a woman simply because she's a woman is to say that ideas don't matter--simple identity does. It seems to me to be much more insulting.But I'd like to see polling data here too.

The reactions so far suprise me. David Gibson, forgive me if I comment on a couple of your observations. To wit:"Sure, Palin is a wonderful mom. But she is the mother of FIVE, and the last a special needs infant born just FOUR MONTHS ago. Shell have to have Mary Poppins and a couple Super Nannys with 911 on speed-dial if she hopes to fill the 24/7 job as Vice-President."David ...? . Is it unprecedented for a Veep to have children? Or is there something about being a woman that makes it different? She's married, isn't she? Let him stay home for a few years."If Obama has been painted as little more than a good-looking Esquire cover guy, how about Palin, a former beauty queen who was runner-up in 1984 as Miss Alaska? Some will think McCain picked his daughter, others his third wife."So she's the political equivalent of the trophy wife? Also ... a feminist and staunch Democrat (to whom I happen to be married) called me when the news broke and yelled into the phone, "She should be staying home with those kids!". Well, she didn't exactly yell, but the line was delivered con brio. This from a woman who has managed to come to terms with all of our children spending lengthy periods of time in day care and after-school care.I think all of us, especially Democrats, need to tread carefully - the rhetorical moose pies are there to be stepped in.

Choosing Palin: Attracting voters is a very short-term gain, but perhaps McCain is considering that he can fill his cabinet with much more experienced Washingtonians.I am curious to see how the vice-presidential debate will go. It could prove very pivotal this time.Women's vote: In my state, Liddy Dole is up for re-election against Kay Hagan, a state senator. I am curious to see whether issues will be discussed or if anyone will make any kind of comment that they will sit out because neither woman should be elected. North Carolina's Democratic Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue is running for the governor's seat against the present mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory. I can only imagine that he would not want to address her experience because he lacks experience on the state level.Back to the presidential race, I know that the race in NC will be close, but I do not know if Palin's addition to the ticket will sway voters in the GOP direction, as if to say that minds are already made up no matter who the running mate is. I wonder how many states out there will have voters who would be swayed.

"The idea that conservatives - even the Religious Right (whatever that means) - wont vote for a woman is based a narrow and stereotypical view. Ask conservatives who their top 10 favorite political figures of the last 50 years are and you will see a lot of Maggie Thatchers and Golda Maiers on those lists. I dont think conservatives have nearly the angst that liberals think they do with this issue. So it wont hurt him with conservatives, especially given her track record on the issues."I think this is right. I'm sure there are some conservatives who won't vote for a woman. Thankfully, they seem to be few.

The truth is that McCain's selection of Palin wasn't really aimed at attracting disaffected Hillary voters. It was aimed at those who are undecided about the election, who haven't already drunk the Obama Kool-Aid but may be less than enthused about McCain's candidacy.The pick was also aimed at those who are sympathetic to Obama's call for change -- a theme that rightly resonated with many voters. She too is a change candidate, having successfully challenged the corruption of her own party in Alaska.Pehaps more than any of this, however, the pick was aimed at those who may not openly identify themselves as "pro-life" (seeing how vilified "anti-choice" figures are by the media) but who know in their hearts that abortion is wrong because it deliberately ends the life of a developing human being. Robert Reid is right. Her witness on this issue will be especially powerful. She won't have to resort to tortured readings of St. Augustine as an excuse for her position on abortion. She should instead be able to offer her own reasoned account for her opposition to abortion (both personal and legal) and point to her own life story to show that she does not lack the courage of her convictions.Finally, whereas Obama's pick of Biden was solid and conventional (shoring up his thin foreign affairs credentials) McCain's pick of Palin (although not without some drawbacks) has some "Wow!" factor to it. Obama's nomination was a truly historic moment, one that all Americans should be proud of -- a moment that far outstrips Geraldine Ferraro's nomination for vice president in 1984. Still, the selection of Palin for the Republican ticket is a momentous event -- another crack in the glass ceiling. Reports are already surfacing that Tony Perkins and other Evangelical leaders are overjoyed at the selection of Palin, so Cathy Kaveny's suggestion that McCain's pick may not be well received by grassroots conservatives will, I think, prove to be wrong.

I hope John Breen is right. I hope all Americans, liberal and conservative, now agree that women with children who judge they have a vocation both to their families and to public service (or a profession) deserve to be honored rather than criticized.

I think there is a difference between the two. First, if you will note, I said it wouldn't matter to most Hillary voters. I know some women - including some fairly conservative women - however, who were rooting for Hillary despite their differences because they thought "it was time." I also know a lot of people, at least in my state, who vote for a Kennedy because he is a Kennedy even when they disagree with him on just about everything. There is a lot of irrationality out there.

My goodness, I leave the country for 3 weeks and look what happens! Just think: once McBush steps down after 4 years (if elected) as has been intimated that he will do, or has an unfortunate health situation that prevents his filling his elected term, Palin will be tne presumptive POTUS nominee in 2012! Ain't THAT food for thought?

Interesting roundup...My sense is she'll work well with those inclined to vote for McCain, and maybe not so well for the rest. But just maybe. I really think it will depend on how she comes off on the big stage. She could be the charm and daring McCain needs to put him over the top. Though I think issues will come to the fore as the campaign wears on. That said, the "experience" factor can be overrated--McCain has "experience," and I'd be terrified to have him in the Oval Office. Bush had no experience, and I am terrified having him in the Oval Office. JFK, etc, all sorts come in without experience and know how to perform well. Look at Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica! (I'm now a geek, thanks to a recent gift of DVDs from a friend.) Mary McDonnel was, like, 22nd in line when the Cylons destoyed the government and she became the accidentla leader of the remantns of humankind. For like five seasons. What will be key is whether Palin stands up to the rigors and scrutiny of the campaign, and is seen to be able to handle it. Jim Pauwels, as for my cracks about her needing nannies, well, as a father of one toddler I'm probably oversensitive, but I think raising five would take both spouses a good deal of work, though it sounds as though at least one is grown enough to go off and fight. But she does come from a conservative Christian culture where women are expected to take care of their kids at home--and I think we all feel that to a degree, no matter how much my own wife has sought to re-educate me. So again, she is part of a political culture that puts these traditional roles in play, but then tweaks them as she likes. Sure, she could take the Ronald Reagan approach to governing. Lots of time for parenting that way. (Or golf.) But I think it might diminish some of the "working mom" cred--five kids, one a newborn, but they are taken care of because you can afford extra help and to have your spouse stay home and you have a mansion in Washington with a six-figure salary, mega-bennies and all the perks. Not exactly the "lived experience" of most working moms, I think. I do think those same conservatives are more than happy to have a female commander-in-chief. I'd agree with those who made this point above. I'd always thought--and Hillary almost proved me wrong--that America's first woman prez would be a Republican. Thatcher, Golda, Meir, Indira Gandhi--conservatives love a woman leader if she's an "Iron Lady." But Obama is almost too fey for GOP voters. She may not be the political equivalent of a trophy wife, but clearly McCain picked her for more than her political experience. I think she is supposed to appeal to a certain bloc of voters. I think it'll work. (Her fans will play up her governing record, but really, I just don't see it.) In any case, the McCainiacs have been playing Obama as the superficial celeb, and McCain goes and picks a beauty pageant runner-up with a thin resume? They'll have to come up with a better rationale than usual why they should be exempt from their own medicine. But I do think attacking Palin too hard is going to be tough. You can swift Boat John Kerry or tar and feather Obama, but raise any questions about McCain and you'll have a POW flag wrapped around your mouth. And the mother of five? "How DARE you talk about her record when she's trying to diaper her newborn!" Is it identity politics? Sure. So be it. Evangelicals have embraced McCain, who is not one of them in any theological or religious way. But he seems like a member of the tribe. It's politics. If he does what they want him to do, great. Two questions, both of which seem major but remain unclear:ONE: Is she Catholic? I thought she was an evangelical, and was claimed by them as such. But some seem to indicate she is/was Catholic. Intel?TWO What is her stand, if any, on the Iraq War? That will likely be important. That also goes to another benefit of her selection--she is largely a blank slate, so no track record on lots of issues to haunt her.

As to question ONE: Apparently she is a "nondenomitaional Protestant," as CNS notes: I think some outlets are confused because there is a very enthusiastic recpetion for her from many Catholic groups, like Fidelis. So go figure: The only acceptable Catholic candidate is an Evangelical Protestant!

I'm wondering about the judgement of John McCain that Obama spoke so well about last night. I will not vote for someone who could likely leave the presidency to someone who hasn't had the time to figure out what has been going on "on the world stage". How can someone who has run the state of Alaska for 1.5 years at a population of 600,000 or so, possible run the United States of America burgeoning on a population of more that 300 million? Come on!!!! McCain has just lost this Repulican vote, and I hope he has lost many more. It's time for Obama, who has chosen a great running mate who could run the country, to step up to the plate and show the tired Republicans how to get it right.

McCain does deserve credit for choosing the first woman Republican Vice Presidential candidate. It will be very interesting how this plays out. It is true that I give her more credit than celibate clergy and opportunistic fundamentalists on the A issue. Palin does get credit for taxing the oil companies and sending a rebate ($1200) to every Alaskan. She even took on the Republican establishment in her State. She is a maverick like McCain. No doubt a lot of Republicans don't like this ticket. Even if I don't vote for her I will give her a hard look.I look with amusement as to how Palin deals with Carl Rove.

I think there's more to David Gibson's view of her as a "trophy vice president" than first appears. It's morally and humanly admirable that she has five children, including one with Down's Syndrome. I'm sure she's a morally admirable person. She seems very well-rounded, and grounded. But being a fabulous person is not necessarily the only qualification for vice president --unless you're seeking purely a role model, a symbol. She is a symbol of goodness in many ways. But a VP can't only be a symbol. A "trophy" anything is someone who is meant to appear in a certain way, to symbolize something rather than to participate in a joint project. It's possible, of course, that's she's both a symbol and a partner. But then, we need to know, what does she bring to the table in terms of experience, wisdom and advice for this job that she wants? What experience can she share with McCain? What advice can she give him? What advice does he want from her? What was McCain seeking in making her vice president? What can she tell him? How does he see her role in his administration? Whether you like Obama or not, he addressed a perceived lack in his skill set in choosing Biden. I can see him consulting Biden on foreign policy. Furthermore, and most importantly, I can see Biden as President--I can't see her as President--at least now. Maybe later, with some national and international experience. I really wonder whether there will be vice-presidential debates.

Obama called him out last night. McCain has a temper but he isn't facing him head on. He is mixing up the field. He is putting a lot of questions on the table rocking progressives back. Democrats want to come to the foreign policy table (and make some good arguments). He is going domestic. People are going to have to ask some real fundamental questions about their values. This goes to the role of gov't, elitism, and a whole host of deep value questions. Here is a woman with working class roots married to a working class man (i.e. she is a hick married to a redneck). Yucky I know but tell me that this is not what some progressives are thinking.Or.Jim's wife visceral reaction is a reaction of a lot of women subtly guilting other women. Guilty about pursuing a vocation in public life with a family. Feeling (or being made to feel) like they have to choose.. Palin extended an olive branch. This is a big moment for women. I hate to sound stereotypical but many are reacting emotionally (positive and negative). We will see how the sister of the travelling pant suits respond

I lived in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where I knew scores of hockey moms, and I would say it's unwise to write one off or antagonize one.If Palin runs true to type, she will tend to see things as fair or foul without any gray areas in between, have supreme confidence in her own sense of right and wrong, expect everyone around her to share her own drive to win, and will balk at being scripted. McCain may have bitten off more than he can handle, and I think he will regret the choice.

Ms. Kaveny -Considering your criteria for VP regarding Palin's record, would you have used the same for Geraldine Ferraro? Was five years in the House of Representatives enough? I seem to remember that Diane Feinstein was on the short list as well that year, and she was the Mayor of San Francisico. Would you have seen fit to find her not up to par? Although that may be a moot point, considering the fact that Mondale did not choose Feinstein.

After having read several conservative / religious right blogs over the past several hours, it cannot be overstated how invigorated the "base" seems to be by this selection, with the most common item being mentioned as Gov. Palin's commitment to raise a child with Down syndrome juxtaposed. I would juxtapose that with Senator Obama's selection of Senator Biden as a VP candidate on the same voters, where the Senator's time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the nominations of Robert Bork and Justice Thomas seems to be a particularly emotional topic.

MAT, thanks for that report from the evangelical/fundamentalist blogs.I'll be interested to see what my evangelical and fundamentalist in-laws have to say. My guess is that my brothers-in-law and nephews will see Palin as a kind of Joan of Arc beauty queen with a gun--like Rush says, "We've got the babe on the ticket!"--with props to the husband for "letting" her accept McCain's nomination. My sisters-in-law and nieces will be less enthusiastic, but they'll keep their mouths shut.

FYI, I think Andrew Sullivan has a number of good posts and comments in his roundup:

Cathy, you wrote,"Whether you like Obama or not, he addressed a perceived lack in his skill set in choosing Biden. I can see him consulting Biden on foreign policy. Furthermore, and most importantly, I can see Biden as PresidentI cant see her as Presidentat least now. Maybe later, with some national and international experience. "Palin has as much experience as Obama. So where is the logic in the above? Would you prefer her to head the ticket? But then everyone else seems to be waxing political, so why be different? Even the brightest can become illogical. Except me, of course. Like Caesar "I am constant as the northern star,Of whose true-fix'd and resting qualityThere is no fellow in the firmament."After these words Caesar is stabbed. At least according to Shakespeare. This is why theater is so great. It solves everything and critics pontificate on its great meaning. It is a great escape.

David, Just two words on the wacky male psychology of this pick: Harriet Miers. For the Supreme Court.

I have to seriously question David Gibson's political acumen when I read his judgment that Gov. Palin is a "sweetheart" who is "so attractive." Her heavy Republican makeup does not disguise the fact that her facial bone structure is no better than average, and the five kids have clearly taken a toll on the physique.Now, that Gov. Jennifer Granholm of ours here in Michigan, she is one quality babe--a sweetheart indeed--although Catholics must fault her for her pro-choice stance. Too bad Jen was born in Canada and therefore out of the game of presidential politics. Surely this prohibition ought to be changed if only in the interest of getting better-looking people as presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

And while she has a reputation as a whistle-blower on ethics, she is also under investigation for a firing and other machinations related to penalties against her estranged ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. Add to that the fact that the dominant Republican Party in Alaska is a cesspool of scandals and indictments, and Palins odor of sanctity may not endure.Interesting tactic, to criticize Palin for trying to have a scumbag cop fired:

Palin "is pro-life and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association." Which calls into question the extent of her support of "life." She picks and chooses the circumstances where she regards life to be of primary importance. She appears to be "pro-choice" in the proper sense of that term which describes freedom to choose, not necessarily freedom to kill/abort.

I'm sorry -- I don't accept the view that Palin has as much background or experience as Obama. I don't believe her broader experience matches his--experience on the national front --counts a lot in my book. I also believe his educational background--he's a lawyer--contributes to his qualifications. In terms of leadership skills--she was plucked from obscurity--He ran, and won, his own national campaign.I think the choice of her as VP gives serious reason to question McCain's judgment.So let me ask the blunt question, because this is what's scaring me: How does an entirely laudable commitment to have and raise a baby with Down's Syndrome qualify you to be leader of the free world? Is this the person you want making decisions about Iraq, Iran, Israel-Palestine, universal health care, energy policy? Would you want her as your heart surgeon? As your lawyer if you were charged with a capital case? As your investment analyst (Assuming she met the basic qualifications, of course--MD or JD)? And if you wouldn't want her as your heart surgeon, your lawyer, or your investment analyst, why would you think she could be your president?

Had someone suggested in January that Palin run for the GOP presidential nomination, people would have just laughed. She's no more qualified now. She's a shallow constellation of things that McCain's election handlers thinks he lacks. She's a bone for the evangelicals who has never been a real player in the national Republican organization.The tactic is more of the same from the GOP; politics as usual in support of a Bush clone presidential candidate. I can see that many Republicans may think of her as an attempt to get back to their "roots" such as they are; she's a paleocon. But she has no power within the party itself and there is a reason for that. Is this the GOP's answer to Hillary Clinton?

That Governor Palin is not a lawyer will be seen by many as a plus.I remember that Bill Clinton boasted that his cabinet would "look like America," but almost all of them were millionaires, almost all of them were lawyers.

Cathy Kaveny asks: "How does an entirely laudable commitment to have and raise a baby with Downs Syndrome qualify you to be leader of the free world? Is this the person you want making decisions about Iraq, Iran, Israel-Palestine, universal health care, energy policy?"In doing so she challenges the tableau of modern American presidential elections, namely, biography. According to this tableau, the outlines of one's life are thought to demonstrate the values that one would bring to the office.There is a lot of merit in this challenge, but if it's taken seriously it ought to be done so even-handedly. So, one might raise the same question "How doe an entirely laudable commitment to work as a community activist on the South Side of Chicago qualify you to be the leader of the free world? Is this the person you want managing the economy in the office of president, making decisions about Iraq, Iran, Israel and Palestine, universal health care and energy policy?"

Would you want her as your heart surgeon? As your lawyer if you were charged with a capital case? As your investment analyst (Assuming she met the basic qualifications, of courseMD or JD)? And if you wouldnt want her as your heart surgeon, your lawyer, or your investment analyst, why would you think she could be your president?That strikes me as an awfully odd standard. But I'll bite: No, I wouldn't want Palin as my heart surgeon or capital lawyer or investment analyst (the average analyst underperforms the market anyway). But neither, for that matter, would I want Obama as my heart surgeon or capital lawyer. Or McCain. Or Biden. Or any politician. Myself, I'd prefer a specialist.

I dont believe her broader experience matches hisexperience on the national front counts a lot in my book. On the question of national-level experience, Dick Cheney was miles ahead of Bill Clinton, no question about it.

Whatever one's opinion this campaign has gotten a dynamic which is history making with variables and similarities yet to be appreciated. Palin has the charm which has been a huge factor in the Obama phenomenon. She has that ability to give people hope, that intangible which seems to have gotten Caroline Kennedy hooked. She is new and therefore does not have as many enemies, which has been a plus for Obama also. She is not that easily definable as Obama has not either. Time will tell but here are some pluses that, it seems to me, she has. You can talk philosophy, theology, gun control etc. But women will look for a way they can vote for her. Palin did cite Hillary and Geraldine as forerunners. That cannot be overlooked. She vetoed a bill which would have refused benefits to same sex partners. Sure, she gave a feeble response that she thought it was unconstitutional and that she would consider amending the constitution. But this is significant. W would not have hesitated for a second in signing it. Finally, she has confronted the oil companies in a concrete situation. Can anyone cite a specific action like this on Obama's part?Being Governor is more akin to the presidency than a Senator. This might be the reason so few Senators make it to the White House.All this and the American people have not met her yet. Gonna be interesting.

To answer Cathy's question, I think evangelicals will vote for a woman who espouses their beliefs, partly because, like it or not, most of us soak up pervasive majoritarian attitudes to some extent. Unless you live in a cave, you interact with and see women in positions of power and it's impossible to deny that women can be capable. Moreover, evangelicals are not so different as we believe or they would like us to believe. They live in the USA, and thus, many evangelical families must have a working wife to get by. If that results in an incongruity of practice over belief, all I can say is, it's been going on for quite some time now. Phyllis Schlafly has always seemed to me a walking and talking contradiction in the fundamental terms of her core beliefs.I think the harder thing to gauge is how evangelical voters, especially women, will view Palin's willingness to sacrifice her role as mother, when at least one of her children is so young. Don't flame me -- a VP who takes the job seriously will not be a hands on "hockey mom" anymore. The demands of working anywhere near the WH are so overwhelming that most people literally can't stand it for more than one term. I think McCain had better options -- Heather Wilson occurred to me as someone who has more national experience, more gravitas generally (former military) and who really might have appealed to disaffected Hillary voters, and perhaps give McCain another state (NM) that Bush won but that is really trending D. Maybe they thought that was too SW in focus.

Here's an interesting quote from the Washington Post's editorial today on Sarah Palin:

Not long ago, no less a Republican strategist than Karl Rove belittled Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as a potential running mate for Barack Obama, noting that picking him would appear "intensely political" because Mr. Kaine's experience consisted of only three years as governor preceded by the mayoralty of Richmond, which Mr. Rove called "not a big town." Using Mr. Rove's criteria, Ms. Palin would not fare well. Her executive experience consists of less than two years as governor of her sparsely populated state, plus six years as mayor of Wasilla (pop. 8,471). . . .

Always interesting to see what the hometown folks who know Palin best might say.Here are three op eds from the Anchorage Daily News about Palin as running mate that may be of interest.State Dem says she's a lightweight, that her victories against corruption and pork were largely won by the legislature: Palin can run Alaska, with it's bizarro population, she can run the U.S., according to a female columnist, but she isn't going to draw disaffected Hillary supporters: history prof says the pick puts Alaska on the map, but Palin's inexperience isn't going to help McCain possible significance, the AP reported in Sept. 2006 that Palin failed to show up for a gubernatorial debate in favor of a photo op with deploying troops. She sent her running mate instead. This opened her to charges that she was out of her depth in debates. Her opponent said, "You've got a business crowd that traditionally demands serious answers to serious challenges," he said. "I've been on the campaign trail and she talks in glittering generalities and this a crowd doesn't buy into glittering generalities."And let's not forget the Vogue fashion shoot in Wasilla last December. Vogue photogs went to Wasilla to photograph the governor with three of her daughters. Palin apparently agreed to the shoot to raise Alaska's visibility. That story, in part: "Palin struck a pose for Vogue, a fashion magazine that spent Wednesday morning at her Wasilla home.She's well suited for the magazine, attractive as she is accomplished. The 43-year-old Palin's high cheekbones could rival any runway model's; she's well-dressed, and often wears her brown hair with gold highlights fashionably swept up.In a state where residents are not shy about voicing their political opinions, Internet blogs also don't ignore this aspect of the current occupant of the governor's office. One proclaims Alaska and Palin 'Coldest State, Hottest Governor.'"Wikipedia, for what that's worth, also has a beefed up bio of Palin.

Oh, and Palin has a bachelor of science in journalism, so, no I would not want her representing me in court or doing my heart surgery. She attended college on a scholarship awarded to her in one of her beauty pageants.

On the experience front, there is a world of difference between being the most junior member of a legislative body of 100 people - even if it is on a "national level." Also, in terms of executive experience, Alaska provides experience in ways that being the governor of oh, say, Arkansas, doesn't. It is physically the largest state in the union. It is economically diverse in ways that most states aren't. The government of Alaska must interface with the federal government in ways most states don't. Most of its land, in fact belongs to the feds. It has some of the most important military installations in the country and probably the most extensive fisheries and US Coast Guard operations in the country - not to mention oil and gas. it has a significant Native population with all of the interface with the federal government that involves. Basically, Gov Palin has already had to deal with the executive departments she would have to deal with as VP - Defense, Interior, Homeland Security, etc. - in a much more extensive way than Obama has as a subcommittee chair.Don't get me wrong, she's not dripping with experience, but that's certainly not a card Obama should play. He is after all, on the top of the ticket. Also, as far as experience, I care far less about his - and even McCain's experience as legislators - since IMHO it is generally lousy experience for an executive. Having worked for an executive agency most of my life, I find that when Congress gets involved they are like seagulls - they fly in unexpectedly, make a lot of noise, take what they want, crap all over the place, and then disappear to let others deal with the mess.As for his being a lawyer - being a memeber of the profession - there is no group that so overestimates their importance and their ability to "fix" problems. We need leaders not lawyers.

"Also, in terms of executive experience, Alaska provides experience in ways that being the governor of oh, say, Arkansas, doesnt. It is physically the largest state in the union."Spin away.No one would have thought of her as a possible presidential candidate a year ago. And she isn't presidential material now.The reason that one can see that she's just a plug for all of McCain's grass roots holes is that she has no power in the national party. This is what makes her different from all of the other more qualified women that McCain could have chosen. The national leadership knew that the would have to put some sort of evangelical paleo-con to bolster McCain. What they didn't want is to put someone who is connected enough in the national party to tip it away from the control of the neo-cons in case she actually becomes president. She's no more and no less than an election ploy for the neo-cons that want to hold on to power, both to continue Bush's policies and to keep their corruption chickens from coming home to roost.

Also, in terms of executive experience, Alaska provides experience in ways that being the governor of oh, say, Arkansas, doesnt.Sean,Might it not be argued, though, that one would gain more experience in being governor of Arkansas from, say, January 1979 to January 1981 and then from January 1983 to December 1992 (to pick some dates randomly) than from being governor of Alaska from December 2006 to the present? You're already on record expressing disappointment with McCain's choice and saying Palin would make a good candidate not now but in 8 years. I don't understand why you would bother, then, to make arguments that seem to imply Palin's experience is superior to Bill Clinton's. There are many arguments that can plausibly be made about the choice. For example, one might argue that a McCain-Palin ticket is superior to an Obama-Biden ticket, and that in fact a McCain-Anyone (say McCain-Cindy McCain, or McCain-Limbaugh, or McCain-Larry Craig) would be superior to Obama-McCain. Or one might argue that Palin is a good choice because she will help McCain win. But the question at the moment is whether Sarah Palin is a good pick to be vice-president considering that she may very well have to step in and serve as acting president. And does anyone think she's ready to be president?What are her thoughts on Iraq?

Joe K: I think the argument that a law degree--knowledge of and formal training in the law --- is a disadvantage to doing one's job, when one's job, as the nation's chief executive, centrally includes enforcing the law (and administering agencies that interpret it as well as enforce it), is rather like the argument that that having a degree or formal training in Christian theology is a disadvantage when it comes to assuming a role of pastoral and institutional responsibility in the Church.I don't find either argument very compelling.

Again, I am not saying that she has extensive experience, I am a little disappointed. But I will state that I don't think she is substantially less experienced, if at all, than the top of the Democrat ticket, and their using it as an argument is a loser. I will grant you that Clinton had more executive experience than Palin, but I do think I would weight the experience she has - particularly as it relates to understanding the federal governemnt - more highly for the time spent - that's all."Experience" as people seem to be using it is overrated. Some of our great Presidents lacked "experience." Look at Lincoln. And some of our least successful Presidents were dripping with legislative and diplomatic experience - JQ Adams - James Buchanan. My problem with Obama is not his lack of experience, but a lack of substance. Experience can show what substance is there - even if it is brief. In that regard, I see Palin as having more substance.As for her coming from nowhere - no one in 1859 would have predicted Abraham Lincoln would be the nominee in 1860 either. Sometimes things work out. We'll see.

As to John Breen's point: I think Obama has spent the last twenty months preparing himself for this role of president. I think he has assembled a very fine team around him. I think he knows a lot more, even about foreign policy, than she does. I think he's a quicker study (I take very seriously the intellectual chops it takes to get on the Harvard Law Review, and to be elected its president). I am an elitist in that I think having a president who did very well academically in that high pressure environment is an advantage, not a disadvantage. I think he has shown, by his pick of Biden, a colleague with experience that he doesn't have, his ability to see that change can't occur in a vacuum and that successful change requires prudential judgment. I think he has the sophistication and nuance to deal with a pluralistic society in a dangerous world. I see in him a possibility of disciplined change.