It's a really consistent effect that Democrats tend to think that the Democrats will win and the Republicans are blowing things, Republicans the reverse. Even the most seasoned pundits fall prey to this. Having said that, no matter how I tote up the pros and cons, I just can't see Sarah Palin as anything but a net negative for McCain. There will be a lot of discussion about her inexperience and lack of qualifications (indisputable), and the fact that McCain skipped over so many more qualified Republicans will bring the discussion back to the pandering issue (which will turn out to be a delicate matter, ultimately decided by women voters). The idea seems to be that you get the undecided and independent women voters while simultaneously shoring up the conservative base. The glitch there is that undecided and independent women voters do not appear to be conservative this time around. They want abortion rights, and they are pro-environment, while Palin's signature issues are radically pro-life and anti-environment. As to that, McCain has (inexplicably, to my liberal mind) problems with "movement" conservatives, but if there are two issues where he has been firmly on the Right forever, they are abortion and the environment: thus she adds little to the ticket's conservative profile to anyone paying attention. Meanwhile on the age issue this looks like a backfire to me: most importantly her inexperience forces us to consider the future of an incoming 72-year-old president who has had skin cancer three times, but more viscerally the sight of the two of them looks like an old man with his daughter (girlfriend?), and the undress-me glasses don't help (OK maybe that's just me. My 58-year-old sister wondered what older women would make of a mother of five with a Down's Syndrome infant out running for president).
But on top of all that, this morning I'm thinking this: when George W. Bush appointed old cronies like Alberto Gonzalez and Harriet Myers to high office, he very clearly was expressing contempt for the institutions: to hell with those eggheads and careerists who labor for decades developing the backgrounds to run the government. Lawyers and scientists and all that: all you need is the Bible! McCain has to, at a minimum, run as not-Bush to have even a chance of winning. This is a Bush judgment all the way.