Conservatives react to Palin

Frum and Krauthammer are worried, but good ol' Fred Barnes is predictably devoted to his Republican talking points.

Published September 2, 2008 1:59PM (EDT)

Has Fred Barnes lost it? At what point did he cease to have a single opinion that differs in any serious way from something that might be found in a talking points sheet downloaded from the Republican National Committee Web site? Here is Mr. Beltway Boy on the Sarah Palin choice:

She was not only a surprise choice but also an electrifying one, and her selection has far-reaching implications. Her entry will change the nature of the presidential race. And if the McCain-Palin ticket wins, it has the potential to carry Republicans through a rough patch and even ensure conservative dominance of the party -- for years to come.

That's an awful lot of political significance to ascribe to a vice presidential pick. But given who Sarah Palin is and what her future might be, it's not too much.

Oh, believe me, Fred: It really is too much. I heard Nicole Wallace (nee Devenish) on television this morning talking up the Palin choice, and she wasn't this effusive -- and she works for the McCain campaign.

Meanwhile, David Frum and Charles Krauthammer disagree. Frum first:

Mr. McCain's supporters argue that he is more serious about national security than Barack Obama. But the selection of Sarah Palin invites the question: How serious can he be if he would place such a neophyte second in line to the presidency? Barack Obama at least balanced his inexperience with Mr. Biden's experience. What is Mr. McCain doing?

The worrying continues with Krauthammer:

The Palin selection completely undercuts the argument about Obama's inexperience and readiness to lead -- on the theory that because Palin is a maverick and a corruption fighter, she bolsters McCain's claim to be the reformer in this campaign ... At the same time, he's weakening his strong suit -- readiness vs. unreadiness. The McCain campaign is reveling in the fact that Palin is a game changer. But why a game changer when you've been gaining? To gratuitously undercut the remarkably successful "Is he ready to lead" line of attack seems near suicidal.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz. Sarah Palin