This is truly the Harriet Miers of VP selections. A shot from the hip that signifies not only the incompetence of nominee Palin, but more worryingly, of nominee McCain. Steve Benen explains:
To reiterate a point from the weekend, the fact that Sarah Palin shouldn’t be one heartbeat from leading the free world is obvious, but beside the point. The problem here is that John McCain’s judgment is so comically flawed, the prospect of his presidency is starting to become quite literally frightening.
Even cursory vetting would have turned up some of these basic details of Palin’s record. Indeed, her career in public office is so brief, this should have been extremely easy for even incompetent researchers. McCain, one assumes, would have demanded extensive background information before making a decision of this magnitude. Except, he didn’t.
So, what are we left with here? John McCain met Sarah Palin in person once, for 15 minutes. Months later, he then talked to her on the phone for five minutes. Four days later, without a thorough background check, he invited her to be vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party.
Sensible people of sound mind and character simply don’t do things like this. Leaders don’t do things like this. Those fundamentally unsuited for the presidency do things like this.
Joe Biden didn’t earn majorities in the Democratic primaries, but no one questioned that he was basically ready to be President (there were just better, more exciting, choices). If something, God forbid, should happen to a President Obama, the nation and the world would feel safe in Biden’s hands.
By contrast, no one knows the first thing about Sarah Palin, least of all John McCain. He met her once, talked to her on the phone, then named her his VP. His staff didn’t look through the archive of the town paper where she was mayor, just to see whether she had any bad stories that they should get out in front of. She wasn’t vetted (not even an FBI background check). She wasn’t tested, and the country doesn’t know her.
For John McCain, that’s a problem. Had Obama chosen an unknown, some people might’ve had a lingering fear that he’d need an old hand to show him the ropes and keep him from making big mistakes. I think that’s unlikely, and that he’ll have Tom Daschle or some equally experienced Washington player as a chief of staff. But for McCain, the problem is that he’s old, his memory seems to be slipping, and neither his physical nor mental health seem to be what they once were.
This is not a shot at him. He’s been through a lot in his life, and his infirmities were earned honestly (despite what some say). But they are still infirmities, and it’s fair to ask how likely it is that his Vice President would be called upon to serve out his term. And given that elevated likelihood, we have to ask whether Sarah Palin could serve it out in any meaningful way. And the answer is, decisively not.
Some have compared this to Dan Quayle, which is apt enough. But I think it’s Harriet Miers. A loyalist who an arrogant and flighty leader thinks he can jam down the country’s throat by virtue of honest service in some minor role. The only difference is that Miers was chosen by a president who took the evangelical base for granted, and her nomination died when they raised hell (and secondarily because she was grossly unqualified for the job). Palin was chosen to bone up McCain’s support with evangelicals, who would’ve revolted had he named his first choice (Joe Lieberman). And now McCain is stuck with Palin, because booting her from the ticket would forever sour his relationship to a block of voters that he despises, but can’t win without.
He could’ve chosen a different evangelical, though. Huckabee, Crist, or even Brownback can at least claim to have been tested on a national stage. But he didn’t choose any of them, preferring to pull the biggest boner of an already mistake-plagued campaign.