The announcement was such a surprise that press folks appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe program weren't quite sure how to even pronounce her name (apparently she pronounces her name the same way that Michael Palin, former member of the Monty Python troupe, pronounces his.)
in the hours after the announcement, members of the press, bloggers and probably even the Obama campaign scrambled to figure out just who the hell she was and what she had done in the past.
Turns out not too much - at least not at first glance.
As NYC Educator noted here, Palin is an old Pat Buchananite from the 1992 campaign, as well as the mayor of a "city" in Alaska with less than 7,000 inhabitants (here's what the City Hall of that city, Wasilla, looks like courtesy of TPM) and the current governor of Alaska for just 20 months.
A bold move by McCain?
A smart move?
Uh, not so much.
Since Palin was selected to run with McCain, we have learned that she is being investigated for abuse of power charges in Alaska relating to the firing of her former brother-in-law from a state job, has "lawyered up" in that case, and has had to announce that her 17 year old unmarried daughter Bristol is indeed 5 months pregnant in order to put to rest rumors that Palin's son Trig was actually Bristol's child and thus Palin's grandchild (the theory being that the evangelical Palin family was embarrassed by Bristol's illegitimate pregnancy and thus pawning the kid off as grandmommy's.)
There is some conjecture whether the McCain campign knew about Palin's daughter's pregnancy or not before Palin was chosen to run with McCain (it matters because they added Palin to the ticket to appeal to conservative evangelical Christians who are notoriously, uh, shall we say uncomfortable with anybody having pre-marital sex let alone a baby out of wedlock) and Andrea Mitchell reported tonight on MSNBC that the really deep vetting of Sarah Palin only began after she was announced as the VP nominee.
Wow - what a pick this Palin is!!!
You know times are tough for the Grand Old Party when Joe Biden, Barack Obama's pick for vice president, seems staid and boring compared to McCain's choice.
That said, this stuff about Palin matters.
The more scandals and quasi-scandals that surface about Palin the more it becomes abundantly clear that the McCain campaign did a thoroughly incompetent job of vetting this woman before they announced her for the ticket.
As Andrew Sullivan noted on his blog:
The bottom line is that he obviously hadn't vetted this person in any halfway competent fashion. McCain's first major presidential decision was rash, impulsive, ill-researched and foisted on the world with no warning. With this decision, McCain clearly wanted to indicate that he was breaking with Bush. But the manner in which he made it proves he truly is Bush's third term - just more reckless.
They should have picked Michael Palin instead.
Although in sheer comedic terms, it remains to be seen if we're going to get more laughs out of Sarah Palin than we would have out of Michael Palin.
Right now, I'd say it's about even.
And that's saying something - wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
UPDATE: The governor's past gets weirder and weirder - ABC News reports that Sarah Palin was once a member of the Alaskan Independence Party - a fringe political party which has been advocating for a legal vote for Alaskans to decide if they want Alaska to secede from the U.S:
The AIP platform states that the purpose of the party is to "seek the complete repatriation of the public lands, held by the federal government, to the state and people of Alaska in conformance with Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17, of the federal constitution ... To prohibit all bureaucratic regulations and judicial rulings purporting to have the effect of law, except that which shall be approved by the elected legislature ... To support the privatization of government services ..."
Taegan Goddard looks at all the negative news items about Sarah Palin and her family that the McCain campaign dumped this holiday weekend and wonders:
How much more is there to learn about Sarah Palin?Good question.
I bet not even John McCain (perhaps especially John McCain) doesn't know the answer to it.