Ponnuru, Halperin, and Jonah Goldberg have fleshed out most of the negatives so read them first, paying particular attention to Goldberg’s point about Palin’s parochialism. The Dan Quayle narrative is already circling overhead in search of a gaffe to alight on, which is why, fairly or not, Obama’s lack of experience isn’t as damaging as hers. Whatever you think of Barry O, he’s got intelligence to spare to handle the job; a voter worried that Obama doesn’t know what he’s in for can console himself with the fact that he’ll be a quick study. That may be true of Palin too but she doesn’t have much time to show it, which is why every last mistake on the trail will be magnified to “prove” that she’s a hick who’s out of her depth. She’ll have to be letter perfect, especially in the debate with Biden, to convince independents she’s up to it. If she isn’t, I think McCain’s support in the center will collapse as people worry, as I did with Pawlenty and now with Palin herself, that we’re handing the keys to the kingdom to a totally unknown quantity who’s one 72-year-old heartbeat away from being commander-in-chief. Think she can be perfect for 67 days? Can anyone?
The good news is that everyone to the right of the nutroots will be rooting for her to do well, so personally appealing and comparatively guileless is she. That’ll buy her some leeway, as will the fact that Team Barry has to tread lightly when attacking a small-town girl in the year of PUMAs and Bittergate. But the Obama camp doesn’t have to do the attacking; the media, scrambling for a prefab storyline, will supply the clueless yokel ammunition for them. Check out CNN’s post from a few minutes ago picking up on that veep clip I just wrote about. Quote:
“As for that V.P. talk all the time,” she told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow in late July, “I tell ya, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me: What is it exactly that the V.P. does every day?”
Are McCain’s and Obama’s interviews usually transcribed phonetically like that, with “ya” in place of “you”? The meme’s already aloft, you see. I’m not sold on the idea that she’s going to attract women voters either, especially Hillary types. One of the subtler virtues of the hick meme is that even if it doesn’t convince voters she’s dumb, it might at least convince PUMAs that she’s not “our kind” of woman. The left is exceptionally good at authenticity games, and the better Palin does on the trail, the more fervently they’re going to push the idea that she’s a traitor to her gender whom no “real” feminist would ever support. My boss gets that from them 24/7. Here’s Susan Estrich, taking a tiny step in that direction by making the otherwise pedestrian point that Hillary and Palin aren’t political twins:
She paid her dues. She walked through fire. She survived. It’s hard to give that up, not only hard for her to give up the dream but also hard for the rest of us.
What does any of that have to do with Sarah Palin?
Only Her Majesty, forged in the furnace of overweening privilege, deserves real respect. That point’s metastasizing already, in fact, into an argument that picking Palin actually proves McCain’s contempt for women voters insofar as it shows he thinks they’re automatons who’ll vote on the basis of gender and nothing more. That’s pure garbage — the near-hysterical enthusiasm on the right today proves her appeal goes deeper than her sex — but I’m positively aching at the thought of our nuanced left affecting high dudgeon for the next two months over, of all things, identity politics. You turds invented this game. Don’t cry because you’re suddenly getting beat at it. When Hillary stops making “plantation” references to the GOP on MLK Day, Palin will stop pitching herself to women voters, how’s that?
So there’s the pessimism. Now the praise: Not only is this the most galvanizing pick Maverick could have made, but the thought of watching progressives tie themselves in knots over the next two months trying to square the inevitable attacks on the “bimbo” beauty queen with poor, poor Hillary’s sexist treatment by the media is worth it even if we lose. Imagine the sort of crap that’ll be airing against her on MSNBC come mid-October. I haven’t cut a check for a candidate since 2004, but I’m suddenly inspired. Here’s the link.
Update: One other thing. I don’t think Palin’s going to make the play for the center; I think she’s going to anchor the base, which is suddenly in love, so that Maverick can go be his old mavericky self with independents. Short of reversing himself on abortion, there’s not much he could do at this point to make conservatives stay home.