I like to talk about the policies and the issues, and discuss the merits of proposals ... I really like to avoid ad hominem attacks.
However, the electability of a candidate isn't a trivial part of the race, and exactly how electable is a candidate running for office on the ticket of a party characterized by social conservatism, whose unmarried minor is pregnant?
I was preparing to make a post about Palin as a VP candidate, in which I intended applauding her for at least eating her own dog food. Preaching against the choice whether to carry a pregnancy to term may rouse strong feelings from different segments of society, but it at least doesn't ring with hypocrisy from the lips of one who's deliberately carried a Down's Syndrome child to term. While I disagree that Creationism should be foisted upon an education-seeking public through addition to state-funded curricula, I haven't yet heard what view Palin takes on whether the federal government should be involved in establishing local school curricula, so I was prepared to wait to hear what she had to say before assuming this was her proposed policy at the federal level.
So here's what I think will be my last discussion of Palin's merits as a VP candidate, with the impact of her family life presented after.
Before: A female governor of a state with a budget surplus is Republican-sexy. NRA Lifetime Membership decal in snowmobile window a Party plus. Evangelicals see Palin's personal life as verification of her religiously-conservative credentials. (Those looking at her supposed support of gays to acquire benefits as partners of city government employees will see she declined to oppose the measure after seeking counsel, and can reasonably conclude that she acted as she did on the basis of advice that creating additional discrimination could be an unlawful equal-protection violation, an embarrassment, and could conclude her anti-gay stance is adequately Republican despite presiding over same-partner benefits.) The fact she's not been long in office may not be as important as the scope of her office: as an executive officer, she's actually responsible for oversight of subordinates with executive authority, and she has performed executive duties, something a mere legislator won't have done unless from prior work. There must be a reason she maintains >80% approval in polls of those with the power to re-elect her.
After: A woman who can't keep her own children from running wild doesn't inspire confidence as a leader. If her children are out of control, perhaps her work-life balance is messed up, a factor that might work against her when people consider her values. Merely replacing her still leaves the criticism that McCain, having been fooled once, could easily be fooled again. Her failure will reflect poorly on him as surely as her daughter's reflect poorly on her, and will not be cured by subsequent action. Alaskans may like her for policing local corruption, but nobody in the District of Columbia will see whether she can repeat the trick in another jurisdiction.
At present, I doubt further posts on the McCain-Palin ticket are worthwhile: have they any chance with mainstream America? In a near race, victory over the middle is everything. If Palin gets votes, it may be from sympathy -- but is this a vote likely to be won by anyone pushing a Republican platform?
I think I'll approach Obama's health policy next, and will likely refer to McCain only as a foil. There seems little point in considering his policies as something we're likely to see advocated from the presidential mansion anytime soon.