John McCain’s never seemed to me to merit his “maverick” moniker, but the Palin pick is clear evidence of an independent spirit. He met the women only in February, barely knows her, yet was clearly sufficiently smitten to disregard all professional party insider advice and the heavy neocon lobbying to choose Joe Lieberman, Bill Kristol’s pick to ensure Americans will be fighting Mideast wars in perpetuity. Watching McCain camp followers react to the choice is a bit like seeing the middle aged heirs of a very rich man feign pleasure when they learn Daddy has decided, very late in life, to marry a woman he just recently met, who happens to be forty years his junior.
Indeed Palin is, if anything, the Lieberman antithesis. The blogosphere has begun to chew on the fact that she apparently played some role in the Buchanan campaign of 1996, and perhaps in 2000 as well. There remains a constituency in this country for the idea that Buchanan is the devil incarnate, but if he’s not correct on absolutely everything, his views on American foreign policy have proved more prescient than any single sitting Republican senator. The Palin choice promises to instigate a boomlet of old Buchanan controversies, including a criticism of the Israel lobby which has become increasingly mainstream since the Iraq war went south. Sarah Palin may not have supported Pat in 1996 primarily because of his foreign policy views, but clearly she wasn’t put off by them, despite the hysterical anti-Buchanan frothings of every neoconservative and neoliberal media outlet in the country. You have to think a hockey mom mother of five would be more resistant to the American Enterprise Institute world view than anyone else McCain could conceivably have chosen. If there’s a good argument for John McCain, it might be that he’s old, has a history of serious illness, and has chosen Sarah Palin as his veep.