Ben Smith notes:

The Palin choice could also reopen some of the grievance Clinton supporters felt toward Obama and the media. It's always tricky, in American politics, for a male politician to attack a female one, though Obama certainly did so in the primary.

So in a campaign where the candidate on the top of the ticket has contended that he is immune to criticism on the basis that he was a POW, the we can expect Republicans to argue that the Veep pick should be immune to criticism because she is a woman.

The pick of Palin is dripping with transparent condescension, the notion that the enthusiasm behind Hillary was simply the result of her being a woman, that it had nothing to do with what she actually stood for, and in that sense it's equally sexist. Palin is essentially a hard-right ideologue, and therefore nothing like Hillary as far as substance is concerned. It's not very different from running Alan Keyes against Barack Obama in 2004. The conservative media reaction has already engaged in paternalistic language, with FOX News reporting on television that "McCain broke the glass ceiling," implying in fact, that the pick had nothing to do with Palin or her qualifications, but merely her gender. It's fitting that the party positing affirmative action as a program that picks people exclusively based on race or gender rather than qualification should do something similar given an opportunity for political advancement. While Obama is promising change through policy, not simply through the circumstances of his birth, the McCain campaign thinks his appeal is simply visual and demographic, and therefore something they can exploit.

This is a pick primed to take advantage of the ongoing media narrative around gender, and I wouldn't be surprised if it had the predicted effect. But it lends more credence to the argument that the McCain campaign is a war room masquerading as a campaign. They're not thinking about governing--they're thinking about winning.

At the same time, on a fundamental level, it's a good thing to have more women in politics, and more women in high places in the Republican Party. It's good for the American people to get used to the idea of a woman being president. I really can't argue with that.

--A. Serwer

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