Be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for

Last week we allowed ourselves to dream that someday this nation would be led by a woman. We meant, of course, a qualified and capable woman. Sarah Palin is not the fulfillment of that dream. We greatly fear she is a nightmare.

But wait, you say; she will not be running for the nation’s top slot. That will go, should the Republicans win in November, to Sen. John McCain, a genuine hero and true friend of Israel who has many years of experience in Congress.

But McCain celebrated his 72nd birthday last week (may he live to 120). Not to frighten his family, but according to Sam Harris in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, “The actuarial tables on the Social Security Administration Website suggest that there is a better than 10% chance that McCain will die during his first term in office…. Should President McCain survive his first term and get elected to a second, there is a 27% chance that Palin will become the first female U.S. president by 2015. If we take into account McCain’s medical history and the pressures of the presidency, the odds probably increase considerably that this bright-eyed Alaskan will become the most powerful woman in history.”

We want to be fair to “this bright-eyed Alaskan.” But we want, even more, to be fair to the country, which deserves better. Her mere 20 months as governor of a sparsely populated state undercuts Republican objections to the Democratic presidential nominee, who looks like an elder statesman in comparison. “[W]hat does she know,” asks Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, “about Iranian nukes, the Arab-Israeli conflict, or the future of entitlement programs?”

Particularly troubling to the Jewish voter are certain facets of her history that are just beginning to emerge – such as her apparent presence in the “amen corner,” if we may say so, of Pat Buchanan during his abortive presidential campaigns. Palin claims she wore a Buchanan button merely “as a sign of respect” when he visited her town. But why would she respect a world-class Jew-hater? And Buchanan himself told Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” that she was a “brigader for me in 1996,” i.e., a member of his “brigade,” “wielding the pitchforks.” (He also called her “a terrific gal.”)

There are other disturbing notes in her political résumé, such as her link to the Alaska Independence Party, which wants the state to secede from the union. And yet, “this bright-eyed Alaskan” seeks to be vice president – and no doubt president – of said union.

We could go on, but it’s all so disheartening. If McCain was so set on a woman vice president, he could have picked a more accomplished one, Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, for example. Palin was chosen because of her conservative credentials, and if she ever ascends to the presidency, the conservatives will have their way – with the Supreme Court and with America’s (and the world’s) future.

In Wednesday’s New York Times, Garry Wills writes of “McCain’s McGovern Moment,” meaning the possibility that Palin might withdraw or be dropped from the ticket. By Friday, of course, when this page is read, this will be a moot suggestion. But, for all it’s worth, we second it.