I must admit I was surprised by the choice, though it will have no effect on my own vote.
I have to say I am also surprised by all the buzz generated by the choice, and by Governor Palin herself; she has seemed to impress many people favorably, even on the Democrat side of the aisle, with a number of disgruntled Hillary supporters enthused about the addition of Palin to the ticket.
Predictably the Democrats are calling the choice 'tokenism' and there are the expected personal insults: she is a 'right-wing extremist' and a 'Nazi sympathizer' for having worn a Buchanan button during his visit to her town in 2000. Some Republicans on other forums dislike her because she is 'extreme' on social issues, with some even criticizing her choice NOT to abort her Down's Syndrome child. Some Republicans say she represents the triumph of 'affirmative action' in the GOP, and say that McCain was pandering to feminists by naming her. Though he's shown he's certainly not above pandering to certain constituencies, I think he may have been 'reaching out' not to Republican women, who, one supposes, would be less inclined to seek such pandering, but to unhappy Hillary supporters. He's always fostered the 'maverick' image, and has seemed more often than not to be courting liberals/Democrats rather than Republicans, who he likely thinks will swallow their dissatisfaction and vote for him after all, as 'good Republicans' generally do. I think he knows that many Hillary supporters are quite angry about the treatment their candidate received by the anointed candidate, and I think he is right; there are quite a few who are ready to jump ship and vote GOP this time, which is not a frequent occurrence among Democrats. I know some Democrats, mainly women, who have already threatened to vote GOP, and this may well confirm that decision for them.
So, given McCain's tendency to try to cross party lines and appeal to the liberals on the left side of the aisle, it isn't surprising that he would try to snag some female votes by choosing Palin.
Some argue that Palin is not likely to win many feminist votes, considering her very conservative views on social issues, namely abortion and gay marriage. But that belief is probably based on a misconception about how radical many Democrat 'feminists' are. The extreme left wing of the Democrat Party is its public face, but there are many rank-and-file average women out there whose 'feminism' consists mostly of rather middle-of-the-road ideas about having more women elected to various political offices or about equality in the workplace. Not all who call themselves feminists are as socially radical as those who have the loudest voices in the Democrat Party; not all women have abortion as their number one issue, or gay marriage.
Some of these women are realistic enough to know that legal abortion is not under threat in this country; it just isn't likely that Roe v. Wade will be reversed anytime soon, so all the scare tactics of the left are just rhetoric. Some younger single women may consider abortion very important, but I think there are many more who are not as concerned about it when it comes time to cast their ballots.
I don't know what Palin's positions are on issues that are all-important to me, such as immigration (note that I said 'immigration', not 'illegal immigration') or affirmative action or homeschooling or hate crime laws. I have tried to find information about her positions, but there seems to be little information as to her positions. I would say that since Alaska, until recently, has not had a sizeable immigrant population, immigration and borders are not pressing issues in Alaska. I know that Anchorage has a certain amount of 'diversity' (what city doesn't, these days?) but apart from Alaskan Native issues, I don't think these things are hotly debated in the state as in so many other states.
In any case, I think she will be expected to be on board with the Party line; I would hardly expect her to deviate from McCain on issues like amnesty or affirmative action. She will be a team player; I am sure this is understood from the get-go.
I have to say, though, that this quote from her, cited in the above-linked article, is unfortunate, though typical in the GOP these days:
In an interview last year with this reporter, Mrs Palin lamented the paucity of leadership in the Republican Party, saying it was weighed down with "good old rich white boys". She mentioned no names.''
And as I said, I would not have voted for McCain in any case.
At least, though, there is some excitement and life being injected into this gosh-awful, dead-and-alive election. For months, we've known who the Presidential candidates would be, and the conventions have been a dismal display. I talk to so many people who express disillusionment and alienation, who say they are beyond sick of the campaigns. And these are not partisans, or political junkies, just average people who feel dismayed by the choices on offer. Maybe the presence in the campaign of Governor Palin, who at least seems to be a well-spoken, personable woman, will shake things up and spark some discussion. Her presence might perhaps highlight the sorry state of both parties and their presidential nominees. I know little about her, but she does seem to me to break the mold somewhat, being something other than one more stale beltway hack or corrupt machine politician.
Having said that, I don't share the enthusiasm many people have expressed to me about the 'history-making ' potential of a black President or a woman Vice-President. To me, it should be about character and ability, not about race or sex.
Is Palin good for the GOP in this election? At this point, it appears so. But is the GOP good for us?
Democrat or Republican, it's a wash. On the important issues, we still have nobody representing us.