So John McCain picks Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice-Presidential nominee. I know nothing about her, so will suspend judgment. But she is a woman, which is fantastic. The U.S. will either have an African-American President or a female Vice-President, which is the kind of history that should have been made long ago; so kudos to McCain for his courage in making that choice.
Beyond that, there are just a few tidbits that seem to be trotted out in all the stories about Palin. She is very firmly pro-life. Unless you are a polar bear. She is in favor of domestic partnerships, although against gay marriage (which puts her in the official Democratic position). She’s been embroiled in some sort of scandal, although it’s always hard to tell at first glance how serious those things should be taken. Perhaps her signature issue, as far as national politics is concerned, is drilling for oil all over the place — she’s in favor.
One might wonder whether McCain undermines his message of the importance of experience by picking a 44-year old governor with no national experience at all. But one might wonder whether Obama undermined his message of bringing change to Washington by choosing a white male Washington lifer from the Northeast; so clearly the McCain camp thought this was worth the risk. We might learn terrible or wonderful things about her in the next few months, but for the moment this seems superficially like a more palatable pick than any of the bigger Republican names that had been floating around — clearly it was in McCain’s eyes. (Brad DeLong wonders whether a similar line of reasoning didn’t leave us with Dan Quayle twenty years ago.)
Update: I originally included a link to this YouTube video of Palin making Craig Ferguson an honorary citizen of Alaska, which I think speaks to her sense of humor. But it also involves Ferguson making jokes about her giving off a sexy librarian vibe, which is fine in the context of a late-night comedy show, but isn’t a fair first impression for a female candidate for a major national office. All sorts of jokes will doubtless be on their way, we might as well make some meager effort to start things off with more substantive considerations.
Update again: Because I don’t know anything about Palin, I’ve tried to be open-minded about the pick. But 24 hours later, the obvious first conclusion to which one is tempted to jump appears increasingly correct: this is a person who has no business being anywhere near a national ticket. Sufficient evidence for this conclusion comes from the words of her supporters, along the lines of: Sure, she’s woefully underqualified, but in all probability John McCain will live for at least another four years! And if he doesn’t, we’re sure she will have the good sense to resign.
I wonder how many times she has visited Iraq to get the facts on the ground?