October 22, 2008
Among elite opinion-makers, of whatever ideological stripe, there is now a solid consensus: Sarah Palin is just not ready for prime time. Conservatives George Will and David Brooks, and moderates such as Fareed Zakaria, have all expressed grave reservations about her fitness to serve as Chief Executive, leading them to question McCain's judgment. As late as September, some such as Andrew Sullivan even called on McCain to dump her, which would have been impractical.
One of the conservative pundits who took flak for criticizing Sarah Palin was Kathleen Parker. She followed up on her previous column by saying that this fall's campaign is proof that the "chickens are coming home to roost" for the GOP. All the recent ideological purges, the demonization of (relative) moderates by the self-described "True Conservatives," and the sleazy campaign tactics of Karl Rove are coming back to haunt John McCain and the Republican candidates for Congress this fall. Parker really hit the nail on the head with that column. As far as the consequences for the upcoming election, perhaps she is right, but there may still be time for McCain to assert his "maverick" credentials. Up till now, he has been spending too much campaign effort shoring up his support within the party, which I think is a mistake. If he can separate himself from the vicious political tactics of which he himself was a victim in the 2000 primary campaign, and thereby show to the American people that he is serious about uniting the country, he can still win.
I think those anti-Palin pundits may be missing the point, however. Hardly anyone really believes that McCain chose Palin based primarily on her qualifications; it was a matter of political expediency -- of trying to bring the party together. Whomever he chose had to pass the muster of the party's right wing. Sarah Palin truly does "energize the base." But perhaps the whole idea of uniting the party under current circumstances is itself not feasible. In my mind, the main question is not whether Gov. Palin is qualified to be president, but whether the Republican Party of today can field a ticket at least one of whose members is not a pawn of the Christian Right and their anti-tax zealot allies.
On the other hand, Gov. Palin showed once again that she is poised and sharp-witted as she joined the "not ready for prime time players" on the latest "Saturday Night Live." It is to (SNL boss) Lorne Michael's credit that Liberal Buffoon Alec Baldwin was made to look like a chump as the real Sarah Palin stood by him during the show's intro.