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McCain and Unable

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I should be glad John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his running-mate.

I should be glad that in his first true test of leadership -- the one that inescapably sets the tone for what's to come and acts as a yardstick by which to measure his judgment -- he proved that he isn't fit to govern an Elks Lodge, much less the United States of America.

I should be glad that by choosing a self-proclaimed "hockey mom" -- a first-term governor of a state with an unimaginably low population density whose only former role in public service was as the city councilwoman and mayor of a town of 8,000; a former beauty queen with no experience whatsoever in foreign affairs -- John McCain may have all but handed the election to Barack Obama.

I should be glad.

So why the hell am I so outraged?

Maybe it's because what John McCain just did -- the cynical gamble he's taken in a desperate effort to win the White House -- in fact gambles with the very future of this country. It gambles with the safety of its citizens and the lives of its soldiers. By attempting to pander to those Hillary Clinton supporters who may still feel snubbed and disillusioned by the outcome of the Democratic race, and by making a transparent grab for both the shock value that can only come from pure political theater and the chance to regain his "maverick" label, McCain has said something terrifying -- and telling.

He's said that he's perfectly willing to risk the United States -- a country that, as he's so fond of reminding us, has enemies that must be confronted; a country that's currently enmeshed in two wars -- to achieve his goal of getting elected.

Because don't think for a second that he truly believes Sarah Palin is ready to lead the free world should something render him unable to. No, what John McCain believes is that Sarah Palin can lead enough women -- to say nothing of the wayward lunatics on the far right -- to the polls to win him the presidency.

It's a thought that should make Americans sick to their stomachs: McCain is counting on Palin's charm and warmth, her admittedly sharp mind and fascinating backstory, to mesmerize voters and recast his campaign and his image in a bright new sheen of youth and vitality. He expects Sarah Palin to be the spark plug that fires up the media, who will surely have to admit that he's turning his back on the past and is ready to reshape and reclaim the Republican Party by making history. And yet at the end of the day, nothing changes the fact that this is actually more of the same from the GOP -- more political opportunism and clever gamesmanship for the sake of achieving the goal of power. Nor does anything change the fact that McCain wants to put someone without a shred of experience in foreign relations, worldwide diplomacy or global conflicts a heartbeat away from having to deal with all three -- with the security of the rest of us hanging in the balance.

As McCain himself has implied about his opponent, the White House is not the place for on-the-job training -- not during these uncertain times, when our country is facing turmoil abroad and unprecedented challenges at home.

Why am I outraged?

Because there's always the possibility that his shifty little parlor trick will actually work.

And then what?