Sarah Palin is to Harriet Miers…

…as John S. McCain is to George W. Bush.

Really. I think it’s going to turn out to be that silly.

Sorry, VPilf, this is going to be rough. Welcome to 21st Century politics.

Read more for some other commentary…

From Gail Collins

It is conceivable that some people will think John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate because she is a woman. I know you find this shocking, but I swear I have heard it mentioned.

McCain does not believe in pandering to identity politics. He was looking for someone who was well prepared to fight against international Islamic extremism, the transcendent issue of our time. And in the end he decided that in good conscience, he was not going to settle for anyone who had not been commander of a state national guard for at least a year and a half. He put down his foot!

The obvious choice was Palin, the governor of Alaska, whose guard stands as our last best defense against possible attack by the resurgent Russian menace across the Bering Strait.

Also a woman, but that’s totally beside the point.

—–

John McCain has a low opinion of the vice presidency, which he’s frequently described as a job that involves attending funerals and checking on the health of the president. (Happy 72nd birthday, John!) There’s a lot we don’t know yet about Palin, and I am personally looking forward to deconstructing her role in the Matanuska Maid Dairy closing crisis. But at first glance, she doesn’t seem much less qualified than Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota who most people thought was the most likely pick. Unlike Joe Lieberman, Palin is a member of the same party as the presidential candidate. And unlike Mitt Romney, she has never gone on vacation with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car.

However, I do feel kind of ticked off at the assumptions that the Republicans seem to be making about female voters. It’s a tad reminiscent of the Dan Quayle selection, when the first George Bush’s advisers decided they could close the gender gap with a cute running mate.

The idea that women are going to race off to vote for any candidate with the same internal plumbing is both offensive and historically wrong.

Alaska newspaper’s reactions…

Anchorage Daily News: “Gov. Palin is a classic Alaska story. She is an example of the opportunity our state offers to those with talent, initiative and determination. Selecting Palin may prove to be a brilliant political stroke for McCain. Like him, she’s an independent who bucked her party establishment and has worked with liberal Democrats. She’s an ethics-reforming outsider who will help blunt Barack Obama’s claim to be the candidate of change in Washington. … For all those advantages, Palin joins the ticket with one huge weakness: She’s a total beginner on national and international issues.”

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: “Palin’s image as a fresh reformer works on some level, for the moment. The governor, as she is quite able to do, delivered a good speech in a strong voice. The crowd cheered her enthusiastically, only occasionally fading into the “huh?” mode during the presentation. The televised punditry followed up with mostly positive comments, calling Palin’s selection a clever ‘chess move’ by McCain. The chess analogy offers some caution. Gov. Palin, while extending her amazing adventure in politics, must prove she is more than a pawn.”

The Juneau Empire: “Alaskans awoke Friday morning to the surprise news that Gov. Sarah Palin had been picked to be John McCain’s Republican running mate. But they weren’t the only ones surprised. After the news broke that she was the V.P. pick, you could almost hear the rest of the country ask, “Who the heck is Sarah Palin?” … The level of cluelessness about Palin’s past on a national level stands in contrast to how well known she is in Alaska, where many residents can recite Palin’s biography almost by heart.”

The Ketchikan Daily News: “Voters will be deciding in the general election whether they prefer an experienced president and less experienced vice president, or what the Democrats offer: a rising star for president and seasoned vice president. It won’t be far from anyone’s mind, either, that McCain is the oldest presidential candidate ever. … There are chinks in her armor. But she has a tendency to just move past them and continue to fight for what she believes in. Palin is energetic. As a candidate, and perhaps as vice president, she will be integral in positioning Alaska as it strives to develop its natural resources and give the nation a solution to its energy problem. Congratulations, Gov. Palin, you’ve come a long way.”

And the only other really strong condemnation I’ve seen so far (I’m expecting quite a bit more after the surprise wears off and the politics gets started again).

MANIFESTLY UNSERIOUS…. At this point, I realize I’m belaboring the point. “Sarah Palin is an awful choice for a running mate,” I can hear you saying, “We get it.”

But I can’t help but think the magnitude of this mistake has not yet sunk in among political observers. I was talking to a friend last night who is a political professional in DC, and the discussion, not surprisingly turned to Palin. He has extensive campaign experience, and every time I argued that this is completely insane, he explained to me a variety of reasons why this John McCain’s campaign will benefit, significantly, as a result of this move. I suspect he’s probably right.

We were, however, talking about different things. The Palin announcement probably stepped all over Barack Obama’s post-convention bounce. Hell, for all I know, this one decision might actually help McCain win the presidency.

But that doesn’t change the fact that this is the single most ridiculous development in presidential politics in a generation.

A top “loyal Bushie” told the Politico’s Mike Allen that McCain’s decision is “disrespectful to the office of the presidency.” That’s actually a pretty good way of characterizing it.

McCain was asked a while back about what he’d look for in a running mate. He said the “key” is to find the person “most prepared to take my place” in the event of a crisis. McCain spent the ensuing months with a motto: “Country first.”

I don’t doubt for a moment that Sarah Palin is a nice person and probably a competent Alaskan governor. But she also has the thinnest background of any candidate for national office since 1908. Is McCain willing, with a straight face, to argue that Palin is the single “most prepared” person in the entire United States to assume the presidency should tragedy strike? Is anyone, anywhere, prepared to argue that McCain has put “country first”? Of course not; these ideas are literally laughable.

Palin’s qualifications are, to a very real degree, secondary to the issue at hand. What matters most right now is John McCain’s comically dangerous sense of judgment. He picked a running mate he met once for 15 minutes, who’s been the governor of a small state for a year and a half, and who is in the midst of an abuse-of-power investigation in which she appears to have lied rather blatantly. She has no obvious expertise in any area, and no record of any kind of federal issues. McCain doesn’t care.

And there you have it.

More on this as it seeps out.   It looks like the RNC Convention is going to be delayed and probably mostly canceled due to /russian voice/ Hurrican Gustav /end russian voice/.

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