Sarah Palin Is Just Full of Surprises

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Photo: Getty Images

While most of America was busy not laboring yesterday, the Internet was struggling mightily to keep up with a flurry of revelations about Sarah Palin. First, but perhaps least politically relevant, Palin's 17-year-old daughter, Bristol Palin, is five months pregnant, will have the child, and plans to marry the baby's daddy (who is, by the way, sex on skates). More important, Palin has announced she has hired a lawyer as part of the ongoing investigation against her firing of a state employee, who perhaps caught her ire for not firing her ex-brother-in-law. Meanwhile, Palin's reformist image is taking a hit, with reports showing that she apparently backed the epitome of pork, the Bridge to Nowhere, before she was against it, and hired a lobbying firm to reap $27 million in federal earmarks for her town of 6,700 while she was mayor. At the same time, links have been unearthed between Palin and a group that wants Alaska to secede from the union. The avalanche of disclosures has led to questions regarding the seriousness with which John McCain vetted his running mate before potentially placing her "a heartbeat away from the presidency," as the Democrats are fond of saying these days.

• John Dickerson opines that while "[i]t may be fun to read about, and it sure is fun to cover," these new details also support the belief that selecting Palin was "reckless." Because "McCain chose Palin quickly, at the last minute, and with little personal contact, the little inconsistencies now bubbling up may reflect more negatively on his judgment than they would have with a more considered pick." [Slate]

• Eugene Robinson says we've learned from the Palin pick that McCain is "not who he claims to be," which is the "steady, straight-talking, country-first statesman his campaign has been selling." Instead, he's "either alarmingly cynical or dangerously reckless." The Palin pick was not only overtly political, but showed McCain "is willing to take an enormous gamble based on limited information." [WP]

• Gideon Rachman says McCain's "decision to select Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate typifies" a man who "adores rolling the dice." It could turn out to be "inspired" or a "disaster," but it's definitely not "safe." [Financial Times]

• Steve Bennen "never expected [McCain] to invite a total stranger onto the national ticket ... without a thorough vetting." The "real scandal" is that "John McCain has the judgment of a small child," demonstrating "incompetence, cynicism, and recklessness, all at the same time." [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Kevin Drum says it's "now plainly obvious that neither McCain himself nor anyone on the McCain team knew the first thing about Palin before they put her on the ticket." [Mother Jones]

• Ari Berman thinks the McCain campaign probably could have done some more thorough vetting in the six months he had to pick a running mate. Since the campaign seems "to be vetting their candidate ex post facto," it's no wonder "why controversy ensued." [Campaign '08/Nation]

• Josh Marshall writes that these Palin stories, as well as "news that the McCain campaign is only now sending in a vetting team," show "pretty clearly" that "McCain didn't do any serious vetting of Palin before he invited her to join his ticket." The "real issue," then, is "what this slapdash decision says about his judgment." [Talking Points Memo]

• Andrew Sullivan goes a little further, claiming that the less-than-thorough Palin vetting possibly "demonstrates some of the most grotesque incompetence in modern political history." [Atlantic]

• William Kristol agrees that if "Palin turns out not [to] be up to the challenge for which McCain has selected her ... [h]is judgment about the most important choice he’s had to make this year will have been proved wanting." However, "if Palin exceeds expectations, and her selection ends up looking both bold and wise, McCain could win." [NYT]

• Chuck Todd and friends think "it appears the vetting process itself is what's going to continue to get the scrutiny." "Was this reactionary pick [made] when Charlie Black and Rick Davis talked McCain out of Lieberman?" [First Read/MSNBC]

• Jennifer Rubin contends that the effort to portray the vetting effort as incomplete "seems to lack any basis in fact." While there's "no way to verify exactly how much was done and who knew what when," "Palin is no dummy" and it's "utterly illogical to assume that she didn’t put all her cards on the table." [Contentions/Commentary]

Related: We’re Sorry, But Palin Baby Daddy Levi Johnston Is Sex on Skates [NYM]
Related: Defending Sarah Palin: Ross Douthat and Jonah Goldberg on McCain's V.P. Pick as Culture-War Hand Grenade [NYM]
Sarah Palin Jokes: Is McCain's V.P. Making Politics Funny Again? [NYM]

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.