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Palin’ by Comparison: Miss Wasilla, a Heartbeat Away

Sarah Palin with Alaska National Guard, Kuwait, 2007.  For this trip the governor had to apply for a passport.  Was it her first trip overseas? Photo: Politico.com.

Sarah Palin with Alaska National Guard, Kuwait, 2007. For this trip the governor had to apply for a passport. Was it her first trip overseas? Photo: Politico.com.

We already knew John McCain was not serious about governing, but his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin [1] as his running mate tells us he is not even serious about winning. This choice pleases the evangelical ‘base’ that had been cool to him, but McCain apparently doesn’t care in what contempt he is held by the more adultlike members of his own party, much less by the rest of the nation and the world. (How seriously would he be taken in foreign capitals after this show of poor judgment, cynicism, or desperation? Compare this [2].) What does this tell us about how he would choose [3] a Supreme Court justice? (He has already said [4] he would pick someone like Alito and Scalia.)

Voters should be appalled. When the nation faces a housing crisis, massive and persistent employment losses, two costly and endless wars, fragmenting infrastructure, and fears of possible financial meltdown, this is not rational behavior, and this is not presidential judgment. This is cynical opportunism, a reckless disregard for the consequences—much like earlier Republican nominations of such heavyweights as Harriet Miers, Dan Quayle, and Clarence Thomas. (You want a woman? Here. You want a black? Take this.) If nominating a woman were an actual priority for McCain, he could have chosen Christie Whitman or any number of other Republican women.

The former mayor of Wasilla (pop. 8,471)—before that she was Miss Wasilla—and 20-month governor of one of the most sparsely populated states in the Union could one day be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Palin opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest • thinks creationism should be taught in school • is against gun control • friendly to Big Oil • doubts that humans are responsible for global warming • favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (unlike McCain) • and is proud that her eldest son is about to be deployed to Iraq. As governor, she sued the Bush administration to take polar bears off the endangered species list to remove an obstacle to more oil drilling in Alaska.

Barack Obama takes governing seriously, so he chooses in Joe Biden a vice president who has solid experience in government, international stature, will give him candid assessments of policy options, and could immediately take the helm if necessary (God forbid).

A would-be president’s first major decision—his VP pick—says much about his judgment and priorities, and his worthiness to be entrusted with the White House. As President Clinton observed [5] on Wednesday night, “in [Obama’s] first presidential decision, the selection of a running mate, he hit it out of the park.”

Compare the choices. A voter could reasonably cast his or her ballot on this criterion alone, and the choice would have to be Obama-Biden.

There is no comparison.

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