As a non-Republican who devoutly hopes for an Obama victory in November, I am loath to offer sound advice to Senator John McCain. However, I see a unique opportunity for him in last week’s conclusion by the Alaska State Senate’s independent investigator regarding Governor Sarah Palin’s abuse of power: McCain should immediately—and with great displays of reluctance and praise for her selfless patriotism—accept the Governor’s gracious withdrawal from her bid for the vice-presidency on the grounds that her integrity has—unfairly, of course—been compromised by this revelation.
This action, while admittedly somewhat cowardly, would allow him at once to capitalize on her having “energized the base” of the right wing of the Republican party, and to choose a more qualified running-mate.
I have heard it said that voters do not cast their votes for the vice-presidential candidate, but rather for the number one on the ticket and on the basis of the issues. But Governor Palin has made herself an issue—and one which, in recent weeks, has taken precedence even over the collapsing economy on the Republican side. Her gaffes have provided ample proof that is absurdly unqualified for the position for which McCain rashly nominated her; and in view of both his age and his medical history, that absence of the necessary qualifications to lead what is still the most powerful country in the world has become a major stumbling block for his campaign.
Worse, perhaps, she has demonstrated an alarming inability to understand the gravity of the consequence of her words. Blithely, and with every appearance of delight in her ability to incite near-violence responses, she has appealed to the lowest instincts of the mobs that attend her rallies. She has failed conspicuously to moderate the tone of her rhetoric, and is rapidly losing whatever support she was once able to muster among independent voters. In short, the McCain campaign would, even at this late date, be well rid of her. Removing her as an issue would give the Senator the opportunity to return to those things that really matter—to return, in a word, to reason.
It’s an open question, of course, whether the Governor would comply with this eminently sensible strategy, and the action might further infuriate her fans. Given the current standing of the Republican campaign in the polls, however, this would be one risk that this notorious gambler might be well advised to take. He would also, not incidentally, be doing an immense favor to the country he so frequently and fervently claims to put first.