Minneapolis-St. Paul -- Even without George Bush in the Twin Cities, the GOP cannot escape its miserable record over the last eight years. (Indeed, trying to spot a recognizable Republican in town has become a favorite early-convention game.)
So you can see why Sarah Palin was such an appealing pick for John McCain. Along with all the things she brings to the table -- fresh face, mother of five, hockey mom -- Palin is notable for what she doesn't bring: a track record.
If McCain had picked any of the far more experienced candidates on his short list, they would have come fully equipped with a long paper trail implicating them in the horror show that is the Republican Party of the last eight years.
Palin has barely left a footprint on the GOP scene. And the McCain camp immediately scrubbed one of the few marks -- an ad on her campaign website featuring an endorsement from newly indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens.
So with a party brand as damaged as the GOP's is right now, lack of experience isn't a bug, it's a feature.
The drama that could unfold in the next few days is simply immense. The emotions involved - especially among the Christianist base who have immediately bonded on purely religious and cultural terms with Palin - are epic. What I fear is some kind of pure emotional-religious wave that redefines the GOP for ever as a purely religious party, swamps all genuine questions about governance, celebrates this woman as the epitome of modern conservatism and rides the tidal wave of fundamentalist fervor to the White House.
This is not what McCain intended or wanted.
He wanted a reformer. He's got a saint. He doesn't understand the profound forces he has unleashed with this pick, especially when all the facts are on the table. I predict that as this story develops, it will be Palin who is effectively running for president for the GOP. Or if she is forced to withdraw, McCain will be forced back to Romney, but they will blame Palin's demise on the librul media, and hoist Palin like a martyred mascot on a freight train.