That’s why the Palin choice was brilliant politics — not because it rallied the G.O.P.’s shrinking religious-right base. America loves nothing more than a new celebrity face, and the talking heads marched in lock step last week to proclaim her a star. Palin is a high-energy distraction from the top of the ticket, even if the provenance of her stardom is in itself a reflection of exactly what’s frightening about the top of the ticket.
By hurling charges of sexism and elitism at any easily cowed journalist who raises a question about Palin, McCain operatives are hoping to ensure that whatever happened in Alaska with Sarah Palin stays in Alaska. Given how little vetting McCain himself has received this year — and that only 58 days remain until Nov. 4 — they just might pull it off.
This is exactly the problem with Gov. Palin’s “candidacy” for vice president: She is not running for anything, instead she is serving as a distraction from the torpid reality of the presidential candidate on the Republican ticket and as attack dog while dodging relevant questions about her qualifications on the basis that, if she were a man people wouldn’t be asking these questions. In fact, I do think everyone wants to know if the vice president is running on a fictional record of “reform” and “fiscal conservatism” (she is a “fiscal conservative” if you measure her against every Republican elected since 1980, as they’ve all contributed mightily to a dangerous national debt). However, it may just work.