For his boldness in choosing Palin, McCain deserves enormous credit. He has made an extraordinary gesture to conservatives and the party base, offering his old antagonists a partner's share in his presidency. And his decision is likely to be rewarded with a massive and enthusiastic turnout for the McCain-Palin ticket. Rarely has this writer encountered such an outburst of enthusiasm on the right.
In choosing Palin, McCain may also have changed the course of history as much as Ike did with his choice of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did with his choice of George H.W. Bush. For should this ticket win, Palin will eclipse every other Republican as heir apparent to the presidency and will have her own power base among Lifers, Evangelicals, gun folks and conservatives -- wholly independent of President McCain.
A traditional conservative on social issues, Palin has become, overnight, the most priceless political asset the movement has. Look for the neocons to move with all deliberate speed to take her into their camp by pressing upon her advisers and staff, and steering her into the AEI-Weekly Standard-War Party orbit.
Indeed, if McCain defeats Barack, 2012 could see women on both national tickets, and given McCain's age and the possibility he intends to serve a single term, women at the top of both -- Sarah vs. Hillary.
The arrival of Palin on the national scene, with her youth, charisma and vitality, probably also portends a changing of the guard in Washington.
With Republicans having zero chance of capturing either House, and but a slim chance of avoiding losses in both, a Vice President Palin, with her reputation as a rebel and reformer, would surely inspire similar revolts in the Republican caucuses.
As Thomas Jefferson said, from time to time, a little rebellion in the political world is as necessary as storms in the physical.
The Palin nomination could backfire, but it is hard to see how. She has passed her first test, her introduction to the nation, with wit and grace. And the Obama-Biden ticket, having already alienated millions of women with the disrespecting of Hillary, is unlikely to start attacking another woman whose sole offense is that she had just been given the chance to break the glass ceiling at the national level.
Her nomination, which will bring the Republican right home, also frees up McCain to appeal to moderates and liberals, which has long been his stock in trade.
With his selection of Sarah Palin, John McCain has not only shaken up this election, he may have helped shape the future of the United States -- and much for the better.