There is a great deal of admiration for Sarah Palin among my colleagues, with the notable exception of Clark, which makes me want to ask the simple question: what has really changed since Thursday that makes the GOP ticket any more acceptable than it was last week when it was, I assume, somewhere between loathsome and horrible? As I said in the comments of another post, the choice of Palin will likely mean that, in the event that he wins, McCain believes that he has already bought off conservatives and need do nothing else for them. Palin will become merely a figurehead, dispatched to quell restless conservatives whenever McCain tries to get some foolish immigration legislation passed or when he calls for a deployment to guard the Mongolian frontier against the Russians. Having appeased social conservatives with a symbolic VP nod, he can ignore them even more than he already does. Should the ticket lose, social conservatives are then left holding the bag and legions of East Coast Republican pundits will stream forth to explain that the ticket failed because Palin’s pro-life views were “too extreme” and why the GOP needs to get over talking about abortion. How can we not get behind Palin? Because she has agreed to work for John McCain, that’s how.
Let’s also understand something very important: should McCain-Palin win in ’08, Palin is not going to be the future of the Republican Party at a national level. Barring some accident or a one-term pledge, should they somehow prevail this time, Palin will likely remain second fiddle to McCain in 2012 as well and will probably then be reduced to the status of Thomas Marshall and, yes, Dan Quayle. Should McCain not seek renomination, Romney, Huckabee and Pawlenty are all going to be waiting to take advantage of discontent with a President McCain, of which there will be plenty.