It’s striking listening to the commentary about why this is a smart pick for John McCain that the arguments are all about how this will help him politically — attract women voters, get attention, disrupt Barack Obama’s “change” message, etc. What I haven’t seen is any conservatives making arguments about why Sarah Palin will help President McCain govern. He’ll call on her insights about . . . what?
UPDATE: For example, Ross Douthat:
I’m pretty excited, I have to say. This could, of course, turn out to be an enormous debacle if she isn’t ready for prime time. But for now, Sarah Palin looks like a perfect face for the sort of Republican Party I want to support: She’s a pro-life working mom; she’s tough on corruption and government waste without being a doctrinaire Norquistian on taxes; she’s more supportive of gay rights than the current GOP orthodoxy (while stopping short of backing same-sex marriage); she has a more conservationist record than your typical GOP pol, but supports drilling in ANWR; she’s an evangelical but she isn’t a southern evangelical … and if McCain loses, she can run at the top of a Palin-Jindal ticket in 2012!
He likes the politics, nothing to say about the substance.
Or here’s Yuval Levin:
The positives, though, are exceptionally great. She will connect tremendously well with middle class parents, at a gut level and not only a rhetorical level. Undecided women are likely to find her very appealing. Her personal story—an athlete as well as a beauty queen contestant in her youth, deeply religious but not overbearing about it, a hunter and former professional fisher(wo)man—is interesting and impressive. Her family story—from marrying her high school sweetheart the snowmobile racer to the son about to deploy to Iraq, to the wonderful way she has welcomed her Down Syndrome son—is lovely and inspiring. And on the issues, she’s the kind of conservative the country tends like best. Her unabashed but non-confrontational pro-life views will contrast in the most dramatic possible way with Obama and be nicely illustrated by her own life; she opposes gay marriage but is otherwise friendly to gay rights; she’s an ethics reformer and anti-pork fanatic (she killed the “bridge to nowhere”); great on energy, and something of a conservative reformer in general, though she hasn’t said much to my knowledge about health care and taxes—which I suppose makes her a good vehicle for McCain’s positions on those. And while you won’t hear it much from the Democrats or the press, there’s the historic female vice president element too.
Surely not a perfect pick, but a bold pick, and I think a very good one.
Likes the politics, thinks the only problems substantively are a lack of record on foreign policy . . . and taxes . . . and health care . . . but that lack of record is potentially a political upside!
UPDATE II: It seems that even Sarah Palin didn’t see Sarah Palin as a plausible choice:
The element of surprise is politically useful, today, in terms of controlling the news cycle. But there’s a reason nobody expected this and it’s not that we thought John McCain might be too stubborn to recognize how badly he needs Palin’s experience to make his presidency the best presidency it can be.