This is, unsurprisingly, a good description of Sarah Palin as well.
The big question this week is whether McCain's veep selection process was bold or bungled, a savvy gamble or a sucker's bet. Brooks is confident that Palin's experience is signifcant enough to carry her through. He suggests it's more likely that crusading moralism - a trait shared by both McCain and Palin - will render the GOP ticket abstractly incapable of handling the perfect storm of governing amid the breakdown of the old Republican hierarchy of power following the Bush exodus.
It's an interest piece, but I don't share Brooks outlook (a McCain administration will be populated by a slew of old hands from inside the Beltway). My concern is short term: McCain-Palin must survive the immediate challenges of cascading revelations about Palin's family that have threatened to sink the Republican ticket. The Los Angeles Times has a nice summary:
For every piece of the portrait of Palin that the McCain campaign sketches, a far more complicated picture of the Alaska governor is drawn.From my perspective, Palin's speech tomorrow, and her expected agility and poise on the campaign trail, including her debate against Joe Biden in October, will be the most important factors determining the success of the McCain-Palin ticket.
The youthful mother of five whose placement on the ticket was meant to reinforce traditional values has now revealed that her unmarried teenage daughter is pregnant -- a piece of information that the family and the campaign said they had hoped to keep private.
The woman introduced to America as a reform-minded Washington outsider who opposed the infamous "bridge to nowhere" -- the symbol of McCain's hatred of wasteful spending -- originally supported its construction. The governor who in her introductory speech decried the practice of budgetary "earmarks" sought, as the state's chief executive and as mayor of Wasilla, hundreds of millions of dollars in such federal funding for local projects.
Moreover, Palin has now retained a lawyer to represent her in a controversy the McCain campaign said it had fully researched -- Palin's role in dismissing a state police official who had refused to fire a trooper who divorced Palin's sister.
On Monday, the McCain campaign dispatched lawyers to Alaska in a move described as an attempt to manage a growing crowd of journalists who have traveled there to inspect Palin's background. But the move raises the impression that the McCain campaign didn't know everything about his No. 2 and is now racing to learn what it can while trying to avoid tough questions about the Arizona senator's decision-making process.
"I really hope McCain did his homework," said David Frum, a former speechwriter for President Bush. "I cannot stifle a growing sense of unease that he didn't."
A former McCain advisor, Mike Murphy, said Monday that it remained an open question whether "the running mate in a good or bad way becomes a window into the skills of the nominee."
Most dangerous of all, McCain's team does not seem to know what new development, if any, might grab the public's attention.
One Republican strategist with close ties to the campaign described the candidate's closest supporters as "keeping their fingers crossed" in hopes that additional information does not force McCain to revisit the decision. According to this Republican, who would discuss internal campaign strategizing only on condition of anonymity, the McCain team used little more than a Google Internet search as part of a rushed effort to review Palin's potential pitfalls. Just over a week ago, Palin was not on McCain's short list of potential running mates, the Republican said.
The unease comes as Palin, 44, prepares for her next big public test: a prime-time, nationally televised speech Wednesday at the Republican National Convention.
Charles Mahtesian argues that the latest revelations on Palin's family may actually help the GOP ticket:
So far — and it is hard to tell what the future may hold for Palin’s unexpected national candidacy — the travails of the Palin family probably seem awfully familiar to many average Americans. It is this averageness that makes her such a politically promising running mate for John McCain — and such a dangerous opponent for Democrats. Many voters will find it easy to identify with her family’s struggles — a significant advantage in an election where the voting calculus is so unusually and intensely personal.That said, McCain and Palin ought to be relieved if Bristol Palin's pregnancy announcement is the last major preemptive press release they need to make. There's already speculation that Sarah Palin is the new Thomas Eagleton, and nothing would harm the GOP's chances more than Palin's withdrawal as McCain's running mate.
Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden hardly come from blue-blood backgrounds; Biden, now famously, is an Irish-Catholic son of Scranton, Pa., and Obama was raised by a single mother. But the fact that Palin, even as a governor, remains grounded in a recognizable American lifestyle — warts and all — has not gone unnoticed among Republicans, as the first wave of opposition research has been unloaded on her.