by How well do WE know John McCain? McCain's central message all along has been twofold.
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The GOP nominee's vice presidential choice of Sarah Palin raises another one:
Both of those points are hard for Barack Obama to match. Obama's critics paint him as a mystery man who carries profound risks. Voting for him, we are told, would be a dangerous leap of faith.
John McCain, by contrast, has gotten where he is because he's a familiar, well-seasoned quantity. He has been in public office for more than three decades, leaving an extensive record. Love him or hate him, we assumed, we knew what we were getting.
During the Republican primaries, John McCain made a point of noting that he, unlike his rivals, had "a military background and experience in these issues." His five years as a prisoner of war also dramatize the second theme, highlighting his patriotic devotion.
The biggest problem with SARAH PALIN is not that she's inexperienced or has a wayward daughter or recently admitted ignorance of what the vice president does.
It's that she's a human torpedo aimed at McCain's strongest attributes.
You don't come across as the prudent option:
The safe guy suddenly looks like Evel Knievel.
Democrats have been trying without success to convince voters that the Republican candidate is NOT the strong, principled, trustworthy leader he CLAIMS to be.
But the vetting process was clearly far from exhaustive.
Several prominent Alaska politicians, including the one directing an ethics investigation of her, said they NEVER got a call. The senator and his subordinates didn't do everything they could to learn everything they needed to know about Palin.
By choosing someone so transparently UNPREPARED for the presidency, he indicated he was willing to do anything, including jeopardize American lives, to WIN THE ELECTION.
If terrorism and the war in Iraq were truly "transcendent" to McCain, as he claims, he would have NEVER considered someone so unacquainted with the topics.
At the rally Friday where the nominee introduced his running mate, the banners said: "Country First."
But his actions said something different: "Politics First. Country Second."
The campaign celebrated Palin as a bold reformer opposed to federal boondoggles and tough enough to buck her own party chieftains in Alaska.
All that may be true, but Palin probably won't enhance his image as a maverick.
Choosing a CONSPICUOUSLY UNDER-QUALIFIED running mate mainly because of HER SEX was a classic case of pandering.
And mavericks don't pander:They do what they think is right and let the chips fall where they may.
That's not what happened here.
McCain, by all accounts, wanted either Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was Al Gore's 2000 running mate, or Tom Ridge, the former secretary of Homeland Security—each of whom has the national security chops that Palin lacks.
But apparently McCain wasn't willing to risk a fight with conservatives over a running mate who favors abortion rights.
Now they can stand back and let McCain make the case for them .
How well do WE know John McCain?
McCain's central message all along has been twofold.