A confounding choice

A CONFOUNDING CHOICE…. Charles Homans offers some very helpful background in an item below about Sarah Palin, but I have to admit, I’m still struggling to understand what on earth the McCain campaign is thinking here.

* McCain has spent the last several years insisting that the most important qualities in a candidate for national office are experience and a background in national security. Sarah Palin was, up until recently, the mayor of a town of 9,000 people, and is currently the governor of a small state with a part-time legislature, with one-and-a-half years under her belt.

* McCain may want to improve his appeal among women voters, but he skipped right past more qualified Republican women — women he actually knows — such as Kay Bailey Hutchison, Elizabeth Dole, and Olympia Snowe, all of whom would have brought genuine credibility to a ticket.

* In an election season in which voters desperately want change, McCain has picked a hard-right conservative. I mean, really conservative. We’re talking about a former activist for Pat Buchanan, staunch opponent of reproductive rights, global-warming denier, and skeptic of modern biology. There’s a reason every right-wing group in America is jumping up and down with glee this afternoon.

* The usual pattern is for Republicans to reach national office and then face ethics investigation for alleged wrongdoing. This year, the GOP seems willing to reverse this, putting a governor on the national ticket who’s already facing an ethics investigation.

* She recently asked what a Vice President does all day. How encouraging.

* Can anyone, anywhere, explain why Sarah Palin would make a good president? Given that McCain is a 72-year-old man with a history of health trouble, isn’t this a rather important question right now?

I realize Palin is new, which necessarily generates some excitement. But I can’t help but find this announcement utterly bizarre, and completely devoid of seriousness.

I heartily endorse Kevin’s take: “This whole thing is crazy…. I’m just stunned by the cynicism of the whole thing. I’m sure Palin is a fine person, loving mother, devoted wife, learning her way as governor, and so forth. But a heartbeat away from the presidency? … You gotta be kidding.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.