Matthew Yglesias complains that the press is talking about Sarah Palin in purely political terms, and not asking how she could help John McCain govern.
It's striking listening to the commentary about why this is a smart pick for John McCain that the arguments are all about how this will help him politically — attract women voters, get attention, disrupt Barack Obama's "change" message, etc. What I haven't seen is any conservatives making arguments about why Sarah Palin will help President McCain govern. He'll call on her insights about… what?
Well, maybe oil.
Kudlow: Senator McCain says [ANWR is] too pristine to drill. Senator Obama says the drilling won't work. What is your response to this? How do you fight back?
Palin: Well it will work. And Senator McCain is wrong on that issue. He's right on a whole lot of other issues, so thank goodness that he's understanding and evolving with his position on OCS [Outer Continental Shelf]. So that's encouraging.
Palin has said she smoked marijuana but didn't enjoy it and doesn't smoke anymore.
"I can't claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled," she told the Anchorage Daily News in 2006.
At the time, marijuana was legal under Alaska's liberal drug laws.
She now says she's against decriminalization, but with Obama on one ticket and her on the other, I suppose the "youthful drug use" taboo has been broken for all time. And she probably isn't going to talk to McCain about abortion, but she's brought the religious right completely on board for him, having given birth to a son with Down Syndrome whom she's called "perfect."
The Palin pick is secondarily about government reform, and she's been steel-spined in attacking fellow, corrupt Republicans in her state. But that's only secondary. John McCain would have never looked at Gov. Sam Palin as a running mate, just as black Democrats and guilty white liberals would have never caught fire for white Irish senator Brian O'bama. This is an identity politics election, with independents who don't agree with anything Obama says asked to vote for him to install the first black president, and Democrats now asked to support John McCain to shatter the glass ceiling.
I don't know how I feel about that. As Kerry Howley argued this year, of course the first credible non-white male candidates can be minimized with cries of identity politics or nepotism or affirmative action. But that's how the barriers get broken. Team McCain has understood, and found, that large slice of the electorate that looks at voting as sociological validation. They were tired of Obama having it to himself. I can absolutely see the Palin choice backfiring: she hasn't been vetted by national media, who now have expense-paid trips to Alaska to book, and she could get obliterated in the VP debate with Biden. But if McCain wins this thing, we'll point to the Palin nomination as why.
Now, Jason Zengerle with the zinger:
I suppose that if McCain continues to make the argument that Putin wants "to restore the old Russian empire," then he can also argue that Palin has been playing a key national security role by preventing a Russian expeditionary force from coming across the Bering Strait.
One more thing about identity politics: It's going to be awfully, awfully tiresome to hear conservatives whine about Palin attacks being sexist. One, it's in bad faith: I challenge them to take a polygraph and say they never visited SlapHillary.com or giggled when a voter asked McCain how he could "beat the bitch." Two, it minimizes Palin by portraying her as a hapless female, and comparing her to Clinton. Clinton was and is a feminist icon. Sarah Palin is Sarah Palin.