John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin is ultimately about his decision making and judgment. Palin could be effective on the campaign trail or an absolute disaster, but what does it say about McCain that he would put Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency after only meeting her once?
If we've learned nothing else from the last eight years, it's that when politicians make gut decisions without thinking things through, it can have disastrous consequences for our country. Choosing a running mate after only one meeting? George W. Bush decision making at its worst.
Presidents sometimes must make difficult, complex choices on a moment's notice. But this decision was an unforced error -- how many months ago did McCain effectively wrap up his nomination? It's stunning that the single most important choice a candidate makes didn't warrant more consideration and due diligence from John McCain.
What we know about Sarah Palin:
We know she describes herself "as pro-life as any candidate can get." We know -- Republican talking points aside -- that Palin supported the Bridge to Nowhere just two years ago, citing the need for action before her congressional delegation lost its political advantage. She sued to block protection of polar bears. And she's advocated for the teaching of creationism in public schools and campaigned hard for Pat Buchanan in 1996.
Susan Nielson did an excellent job this morning of laying out just how at odds Palin's politics are with the interests of the 18 million women who supported HIllary Clinton in the primary. But beyond any specific issue, I can think of few insults worse than the prospect of Sarah Palin, not Hillary Clinton, becoming the first woman president.
Prior to two days ago, if you asked 100 leaders in the Republican party to make a list of the top 100 people best prepared to serve as leader of the free world, Sarah Palin likely wouldn't have registered in the top 10,000.
America just got glimpse of the judgment we can expect from John McCain as president. And what we learned is that with McCain, the decision making of the next four years will look a lot like the gut decision disasters of the last eight.
Update: An article in tomorrow's New York Times also highlights McCain's history of risky decision making. From the piece:
The selection was the culmination of a five-month process, described by Mr. McCain’s inner circle and outside advisers in interviews this past weekend, and offers a glimpse into how Mr. McCain might make high-stakes decisions as president. At the very least, the process reflects Mr. McCain’s history of making fast, instinctive and sometimes risky decisions. “I make them as quickly as I can, quicker than the other fellow, if I can,” Mr. McCain wrote, with his top adviser Mark Salter, in his 2002 book, “Worth the Fighting For.” “Often my haste is a mistake, but I live with the consequences without complaint.”