The one thing the Palin pick did for sure was to drive Obama's acceptance speech — which I didn't see, but which apparently moved a lot of old political hands to tears, and even got the nod from sourpuss "move to your left, a little more to your left, please" Glenn Greenwald — off the front page.
The general take seems to be that Palin appeals to the hard-right Base with her NRA membership, creationism, climate-change denial, and extreme pro-life stance, while simultaneously attracting disaffected Clinton voters by virtue of being a woman standing up to the old-boy network. The first part I'll certainly grant, even though I think McCain's maverick image is largely illusory, being based on a very few votes and bill sponsorships, several of which, as Biden very cogently noted, he now repudiates. It's worked very well for him so far, though, to the point where a lot of people, including some conservatives, think he's pro-choice at the same time that NARAL gives him a zero lifetime rating on his actual voting record. There seems to be no doubt that the pick raises McCain's conservative cred with the Limbaugh crowd.
The second part is what makes me queasy. Does McCain really think Clinton voters are so stupid that he can attract them by picking a female James Dobson with a featherweight resume? I almost never read NYT columnist Gail Collins, as she seems to me to be 1% substance and 99% snark, but her column yesterday was that one in a hundred. After noting that symbolic candidates Shirley Chisholm and Geraldine Ferraro felt like a big deal in the '70s after 50 years of our having the vote but little else, Collins closed with this:
This year, Hillary Clinton took things to a whole new level. She didn’t run for president as a symbol but as the best-prepared candidate in the Democratic pack. Whether you liked her or not, she convinced the nation that women could be qualified to both run the country and be commander in chief. That was an enormous breakthrough, and Palin’s nomination feels, in comparison, like a step back.
The key word there is qualified. I'd have voted for Clinton in either position on the ticket; I'd as soon vote for Palin as for, well, James Dobson. Or Paris Hilton. That would be as soon as you can show me definitive evidence that hell has frozen over.
I strongly suspect I'm not alone.