Friday erupted with an early morning jolt as rumors of the Palin VP announcement circulated without confirmation. Events unfolded, and soon it was official. Alaska's governor of less than two years had leaped to the center ring as John McCain's Republican running mate, complete with the special scrutiny that implies.
Web commentary came fast, with opinion collecting along specific themes, like so many lead filings to a magnet. Among them:
Her choice is an insult to women. Let's get women out of the way first. A lot of them (not all, see the next item) are angry. An editorial page columnist at the Kansas City Star bolted out of the gate early, with indignation.
Where do politicians get the idea that women, in lemming-like style, will vote for a presidential ticket because a woman is on it?
Women rallied to Hillary Clinton because they saw she'd paid her dues and because she'd earned her stripes in the Senate. And, lest we forget, Clinton supports the right to terminate a pregnancy.
Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton. She hasn't paid her dues yet. And she's adamantly anti-abortion.
That's just an awfully big leap. Rather than seeing Palin as a draw, a lot of women are going to be insulted that John McCain thought we could be swayed so easily.
"Not again," railed Dee Dee Myers on Huffington Post.
"...because too often women are promoted for the wrong reasons, and then blamed when things don't go right. Does the McCain camp really expect pro-choice Democratic and independent women to be swayed by a sleight-of-gender?
An early morning reader comment on the Washington Post's political blog, The Fix was blunt:
So, help me understand this, if he dies, she gets to be President? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????? Palin and Clinton should not even be mentioned in the same breath. While this may shore up some support among his right-wing sycophants, 'thinking' people (and I believe most of the Hillary supporters are) gotta believe they are being pandered to. Once again, McCain doesn't get it. Most women didn't want ANY woman in high office, they wanted a QUALIFIED woman in high national office. There are so many ways to attack this.
But for evangelicals, the choice is "truly inspired." The Washington Post's On Faith blog says this pick was critical and correct.
Dr. James Dobson, Chairman of Focus on the Family, who has said he could not support McCain, expressed support for McCain's choice Friday.
"Gov. Palin's commitment to the sanctity of life is not just a political position. She was advised to abort her fifth and youngest child when it was learned he had Down syndrome. She refused. That's bravery and integrity in action," Dobson said in a statement.
Pro-life advocates and websites were buzzing Friday about McCain's choice.
"Sarah Palin is the whole package. There couldn't be a better vice presidential pick," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an influential pro-life PAC. "By choosing the boldly pro-life Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has taken his stand as the one true, authentic pro-life ticket."
Another Post blog, Capitol Briefing, noted Palin's support for creationism when she ran for Governor in 2006.
One dissenter on the conservative-values front was Kim Stagliano at Huffington Post.
I believe in a woman's right to any career she desires. Yet as a mother of kids whose needs have taken precedence over my career for over a decade, I know the realities of special needs parenting. And I find myself asking a question that makes me feel like Donna Reed: Once you've chosen to have five children, and your infant has special needs, who needs you more, your family or your job? And if I can ask this touchy, old fashioned question, I wonder if conservatives will warm to a woman willing to make such a profound family sacrifice.
Palin not yet ready for prime time. Translation: A heartbeat away from the presidency is too darn close. This viewpoint is everywhere.
From the International Affairs blog at the Financial Times:
At a stroke, McCain has negated his most powerful argument - that Barack Obama is too inexperienced to be president. Sarah Palin has been governor of Alaska for less than two years. Six years ago, she was the mayor of a town of 9,000 people.
Her personal story is interesting and has a certain charm. But I winced as I heard her describe the valuable experience she had gained as a member of a Parent Teachers Association. And this is the person who might end up having to deal with the likes of Valdimir Putin and Hu Jintao?! And remember, McCain turned 72 today.
Closer to home from Dermot Cole's blog at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Sarah Palin's chief qualification for being elected governor of Alaska was that she was not Frank Murkowski.
She was not elected because she was a conservative. She was not elected because of her grasp of issues or because of her track record as the mayor of Wasilla, an office she won in 1996 by collecting 617 votes.
From Bob Cesca of the Huffington Post:
I'm not sure which was more bizarre today.
Governor Palin saying "nuclear" with the same "nookular" pronunciation as both President Bush -- and former Vice President Dan Quayle who, if you recall, also used to say "nookular." Or FOX News Channel's Steve Doocy suggesting that, heck yeah, Governor Palin has foreign policy credentials because: ...she is right up there in Alaska right next door to Russia.
By that logic, if she spends enough time standing next to Senator McCain, she'll also attain POW experience.
What they won't let her forget: She actually dissed the job a month ago. Politico.com says Palin must have been as surprised as we were that she got the nod, given her remarks about the vice president's office during an interview with Larry Kudlow on CNBC a month ago:
Palin replied: "As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day? I'm used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we're trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question."
Watch it here. Her reaction to the job comes up around a minute, fifty-five seconds.