8-9 years ago, when McCain and Bush were fighting it out in the Republican primaries, I was strangely attracted by McCain.
It’s not that I consider myself a Democrat in US terms – I tend to disagree with both parties – but most Republicans are very far from my own political position.
It’s not that I agreed with all he said, but you somehow got the impression he would make up his own mind on issues, even if it meant agreeing with the Democrats instead of his own party.
In the primaries this year he appeared to have changed a bit. He was far too positive of the Iraq war for a start, and singing about bombing Iran made me convinced he is far too relaxed about the human cost of war.
However, I’m sure that one could imagine a Democratic candidate that would make me prefer McCain on his own.
He’s not on his own, though. Afraid that he was losing support amongst the Republican activists, he picked a vicepresidential candidate with the intelligence and curiosity of George W. Bush, and they loved her.
Palin reminds me of Pia Kjærsgaard from the far-right Danish People’s Party. She sounds innocent and down-to-earth, but she has horribly extreme opinions.
Given McCain’s age and health record, she really could become president, and that would be a disaster.
Also, if McCain can really pick a person like her, he must be far more comfortable with the far right than he appears.
So by picking Palin, McCain has ensured that only the party activists are happy, but what was the point then of picking McCain instead of Huckabee?
As a presidential candidate, you can either try to aim for the centre (as Clinton did), or you can try to energise the base (like Dubya). You can’t do both, or you’ll drop both groups of voters.
So in effect, Palin has neutralised McCain’s appeal as surely as a base neutralises an acid.