I've been (moose) stewing about the Palin pick through a couple days of writer's block and concluded that McCain accomplished at least one thing: a big distraction.
I'll admit it. I was sucked in by Babygate and I feel icky. But in this Nancy Grace world, the notion that the religious fundamentalist governor of Alaska might fake her own pregnancy to cover up for her daughter isn't all that crazy.
It isn't true, either, and the buzz probably pulled the news of the daughter's actual pregnancy out of the McCain-Palin camp. Because even though the rumor itself isn't mentioned, they make a point of noting that Palin's daughter is five months pregnant, putting it BEFORE the birth of Palin's new baby.
I certainly don't wish this insane level of scrutiny on this girl, who didn't choose to live a life this public. And I'm the father of a teenage mother myself, so I'm not going to critique Sarah Palin's parenting. But neither would I inflict my values on Sarah Palin's daughter, the way Palin would inflict her values on my daughter.
The McCain camp, of course, blamed a familiar target:
A senior McCain campaign official said the McCain camp was appalled that these rumors had not only been spread around liberal blog sites and partisan Democrats, but also were the subject of heightened interest from mainstream news media.
"The despicable rumors that have been spread by liberal blogs, some even with Barack Obama's name in them, is a real anchor around the Democratic ticket, pulling them down in the mud in a way that certainly juxtaposes themselves against their 'campaign of change,'" a senior aide said.
The bloggers! I hate the bloggers! Go git `em, Sarah!
The bloggers, of course, are having a field day with the vetting that McCain didn't do. Too much of a field day with Babygate, though apparantly that floated around the Alaska political world for a while before Palin hit the national stage. But it's increasingly clear that the Palin vetting is happening NOW, via the media (old fashioned as well as the hated bloggers) and opposition research. HuffPost:
On Saturday, a Democrat tasked with opposition research contacted the Huffington Post with this piece of information: as of this weekend, the McCain campaign had not gone through old newspaper articles from the Valley Frontiersman, Palin's hometown newspaper.
How does he know? The paper's (massive) archives are not online. And when he went to research past content, he was told he was the first to inquire.
"No one else had requested access before," said the source. "It's unbelievable. We were the only people to do that, which means the McCain camp didn't."
Does Palin have a Macaca moment out there, or will it be a death of a thousand cuts? This Kos diary lists 100.
The real issue is that McCain apparently made a snap decision without all the facts.
Here's what I, with no inside knowlege and just a gut impression, think really happened.
McCain's man crush on Joe Lieberman was so obvious I wanted to scream "get a room" whenever the two were on TV together. It was clear that Johnny Mac really wanted Lieberman as VP, even going so far as to check election law to see if a registered Democrat could be on the ballot as a Republican.
Late last week the higher ups in the GOP must have told Johnny Mac that Joementum was impossible. He'd have a floor revolt on his hands, and probably not even be able to get Joementum through. A floor defeat for the nominee on the critical matter of his running mate would have been fatal to the party's already tough chances. They told him so and tried to talk him into Mitt (who McCain clearly loathes).
So McCain got pissed off, as he's known to do, and just tossed out the only name he hadn't crossed off yet. And in a sense he got lucky, because McCain's possibly petulant naming of Palin almost inadvertently won the base over.
But Desmoinesdem notes that not all the evangelicals love Palin; a fair number think she should be home with the babies. That's in interesting ink blot test, as is this argument (down in the comments) from an Alaska woman with long Palin watching experience:
To both men and women she makes a “wow!” first impression. She is beautiful -- and she, more than anyone else, knows her primary appeal is her appearance and she focuses a lot of attention and time on this.
If she’s working from a mostly memorized script or telepromptors she can come off sounding articulate.
But here’s what happens -- she’ll be asked a question that she clearly doesn’t know any specifics about and you can watch her pull out a 2-3 second delay wherein she is working feverishly to figure out what she is going to say. But during that little momentary delay she’ll sigh, or cock her head, or bat her eyes, or twist her lips, or some other kind of delay tactic.
Men and women respond very differently to this. Women see right away that she simply doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
Men, on the other hand, watch this, and it has enough of a feeling of mild flirtation -- that they just eat it up. It’s like some sort of weird eye candy for their soul, this little drawing her audience in to this playful exchange with, usually it involves her eyes. It’s so weird, and if I hadn’t watched this thing play itself out over and over and over the past years, I would think a post like this was crazy.
But. But eventually the guys wake up. Eventually they realize that, no, Sarah is not a conservative (fiscally, at least) and that Sarah is not ethical (remember - she’s the only sitting governor under investigation for abuse of power in the Republic); Sarah, with her track record of calling people she doesn’t like, “haters,” and “dumbass,” and giggling like a school girl when, on a radio show, the DJ’s called a cancer-surviving grandmother she doesn’t like a “bitch” and a “cancer,” and no, Sarah’s hasn’t run the “open, honest and transparent” government she touts.
So, no. Sarah Palin isn’t the paragon of virtue she’s being touted as. She’s not the reformist. She’s not ethical and honest and open and transparent.
And when men wake up to the reality of who Sarah is, there is this weird sort of self-loathing phase they go through; it must be akin to what the morning after feels like to some guys. Especially men who fall hard for the Sarah line - when they have their wake up call, it can be painful to watch. Men don’t like to feel they’ve been had. Well, none of us do, I suppose.
Like I said, an interesting ink blot test.
But this Alaskan has made up his mind. The party of oil nominates... the governor of an oil state who wants to take polar bears off the endangered list because, well, they get in the way of the oil wells. There's a definite drill, drill, drill subtext to the Palin nomination.
But in the end, it comes back to that baby. Let's be real, on the fundamentalist social issues, John McCain is like Reagan or Bush 41. He says the right (wing) things, but those issues aren't the priorities. Well, now, in the person of little Trig Palin and in Bristol Palin's ole fashion shotgun wedding (perhaps backed by Maw's actual shotgun), the evangelicals have living proof of the absolutism they want. Welcome to Gilead.