If you look up the article at Wikipedia on Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern’s initial pick for VP in the 1972 presidential election, the parallels with Sarah Palin are rather striking:
- Like McGovern’s 1972 VP pick, Palin seems to be someone who is “out there,” if not mentally, as Eagleton may have been, then at least ideologically.
- Eagleton, who it was revealed, had undergone mental health treatment, including electroshock therapy, fast became the butt of jokes. Likewise Palin, for a variety of different reasons, seems to be becoming also a popular source of jest—implying that many voters perceive her as someone who lacks the seriousness to be president.
- Like McGovern’s pick, McCain’s pick is provoking questions about his good sense and judgment. Here’s a quote from the Wikipedia article on Eagleton:
McGovern’s handling of the controversy was an opening for the Republican campaign to raise serious questions about his judgment. In the general election, the Democratic ticket won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.
The media controversy swirling around Eagleton only subsided when McGovern dropped him from the ticket. Here, once again, is Wikipedia:
A Time magazine poll taken at the time found that 77 percent of the respondents said “Eagleton’s medical record would not affect their vote.” Nonetheless, the press made frequent references to his shock therapy, and McGovern feared that this would detract from his campaign platform.
Will McCain’s Sarah Palin problem resolve itself in a similar manner—by McCain withdrawing her name from the ticket?
Andrew Sullivan, at his blog, thinks that if McCain tries to dump Palin he will unleash forces that are emotionally volatile, and therefore unpredictable:
The drama that could unfold in the next few days is simply immense. The emotions involved – especially among the Christianist base who have immediately bonded on purely religious and cultural terms with Palin – are epic. What I fear is some kind of pure emotional-religious wave that redefines the GOP for ever as a purely religious party, swamps all genuine questions about governance, celebrates this woman as the epitome of modern conservatism and rides the tidal wave of fundamentalist fervor to the White House.
This is not what McCain intended or wanted.
He wanted a reformer. He’s got a saint. He doesn’t understand the profound forces he has unleashed with this pick . . .
The collective psyche of the Republican party, and the country, is about to go through some very raw turbulence.