I've since read a bit more about Gov. Palin, and I feel a grudging admiration. Even factoring out the sexist manipulation, John McCain probably couldn't have done better in his choice. The Alaskan governor seems the genuine article, all right. She's the maverick that McCain only pretends to be, and her short track record as Governor already shows that she goes after results without caring for the party establishment or cosy arrangements between power-brokers.
I'm ambivalent on abortion, as I've said before. I think abortion is a bad thing but I also believe it shouldn't be made illegal (because that'll only drive it underground, which is worse). Gov. Palin is a conservative and opposes abortion. Unlike many others who merely talk the talk, she and her husband have been in the extremely painful situation of having had to make the choice when their unborn child was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome. They stuck to their principles and had the baby. It's not for us to argue the wisdom of their decision. What it says to me is that she walks the talk.
Another son of hers is to serve in Iraq soon, which bolsters her patriotic credentials. That should stand in contrast to others in her party who avoided serving in Vietnam. Again, we can debate the wisdom of the war itself, but no fingers can be pointed at Gov. Palin on the grounds of keeping her own family safe while others' kids are sent off to fight.
The only thing that repels me personally is her lifetime membership of the National Rifle Association. Alignment with the gun lobby to me suggests a fundamental flaw in one's approach to life. A president with that trait may perhaps be just that bit more willing to choose a military option over a diplomatic one. After 8 years of adventurism springing from precisely such an approach to life, can the world afford any more?
But for better or worse, she's here now, and Obama-Biden have a real fight on their hands. This is shaping up to be the most exciting US election in recent times. At a time when Obama has been softening his message to appeal to the centre, McCain has revolutionised his campaign by importing a true maverick (i.e., not necessarily one who goes against Conservative dogma but one who ignores the political establishment of the day and its backroom deals, which takes a lot of courage). If anything should happen to old man McCain after a possible Republican victory, she'll be the one minding the store. From what I've read of her so far, she wouldn't hesitate to demolish the Bush legacy.
Perhaps (dare one say it?), Sarah Palin is now the one who represents change we can believe in?