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The Palin Pick: Don’t Rush Me!

Updated: Apr 15

Palin: So easy to look at, so hard to define

Palin: So easy to look at, so hard to define

A reader sent along a link from the Arkansas Tonight blog (which has been unaccountably absent from my radar screen, but now enjoys a proud place on the blogroll below), in which I am being taken to task for expressing support for John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as VP.

The only problem is, I haven’t done so. It’s true that I’ve posted a whole lot about the pick—actually, much more than than I meant to. I’ve also posted lots of photos of Palin—because, well, come on.

But otherwise, I’ve mostly reserved judgment thus far, other than to argue with a few points about “experience” and to defend Palin against some of the wackier rumor-mongering. (It’s true that Freeman Hunt has given her seal of approval, but contributors to this blog are not required to toe a party line, and we don’t always agree.)

That’s why I’ve linked to various writers the last few days who were either enthusiastic or critical of Palin—let’s see what everyone’s saying and sift it out. (While I’m on the subject: John Brummett’s column from Saturday—which upon reflection, I now believe I was hasty, cranky and ungenerous in dismissing so quickly, and I’m willing to admit it—takes a reasonable enough “skeptical-but-let’s-wait-and-see” stance.)

Here’s my dilemma: As a political observer, I love it. It’s a refreshing, ballsy, exciting move that might shake things up, which is what this campaign needs. And it gives us fun stuff to write about. (Oh, admit it: You didn’t want to every read anything about Mitt Romney again, now did you?)

But as someone who has been clear that he wants McCain to win, I’ll confess some trepidation over what may be a very, very risky gamble.

When it comes to the question of Palin’s experience, which is a fair enough question to explore, I’m baffled as to Democrats are perfectly willing to embrace the lack of experience at the top of their ticket, but condemn it as unacceptable at the bottom of the GOP ticket. If the Dems really did value experience as much as they have suddenly started claiming the last few days, surely they would have nominated Hillary Clinton over Obama, right?

If I’m not entirely ready to stand up and cheer the Palin pick, nor am I ready to pronounce it “suicidal.”  I’m willing to wait a couple of weeks to see how she performs and how the voters respond to her.

Why? Simple. Today, it seems clear that the conventional wisdom on Palin among many in the punditocracy (Am I part of the punditocracy yet? When does that happen?) is shaping up that the pick was a “bad move” for McCain. Over at the Arkansas Times blog, to take just one local example, Max Brantley sounds like he’s gearing up for the Sarah Palin Steps Down to Spend More Time With Her Family Watch.

But have you noticed how often the conventional wisdom has been dreadfully wrong in this race?

Remember how Hillary Clinton, with her mountains of cash, was supposed to be the unstoppable Democratic juggernaut? I do. And I was one of the people who believed it. Until she lost to the one-term Senator with the weird name, and went several million dollars into debt for her trouble.

Remember how those moneybags candidates like Romney and Rudy Giuliani were going to fight it out in a battle royale for the GOP nod? I do. I was one of the people who believed it. Rudy flamed out spectacularly, gone before he was here, while Romney fizzled out over several agonizing months.

Remember how Mike Huckabee’s underfunded candidacy was gonna be over before the end of summer 2007? I do. And I was one of the people who believed it. Until he won Iowa, made a surprisingly spirited primary run and positioned himself as a significant player in national GOP politics for the future.

Remember how John McCain was finished in summer 2007 because he was broke and the wheels were coming off his campaign? I do. And I was one of the people who believed it. Until he rode the ramshackle remnants of that campaign to the nomination.

Remember how Fred Thompson was going to fire up the GOP grassroots with his down-home Reaganesque authenticity? I do. But actually, I didn’t fall for that one. He was just terrible.

So if I’m a little hesitant to jump on to any bandwagons with regard to Sarah Palin, that’s why. The conventional wisdom has taken it on the chin a few too many times this last year, and given that the Palin pick is an unconventional play of almost unprecedented proportions, I’m willing to hold off on making a snap decision. (I will note that, the more that Dems unleash loony attack lines against her, the more I like her. Keep it up!)

And besides, it’s not like I get paid to do this, so I figure I can take my own sweet time and do whatever the hell I want.

But all that stuff I wrote about Palin being “America’s Hottest Governor“? I stand by all that unreservedly. Steadfast, I am.

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