10/02/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain: Gambling With America

God doesn't play dice with the universe, said Einstein. But John McCain is playing dice with America.

In a move that startled even his fellow Republicans, he has picked a running mate who couldn't be less prepared to be vice president of the United States -- much less, president.

Is John McCain slipping into senility? Selecting Sarah Palin was a cynical and irresponsible thing to do.

Cynical -- because the underlying motive was probably to woo the disaffected women who have been supporting Hillary if any one female can simply replace any other. But Palin, with her anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage principles could not be further from Clintonian ideals.

Irresponsible -- because Palin has lived her entire life, except for four years in college, thousands of miles away from continental America. Has she ever stepped foot in New York, in Miami, in Los Angeles, in Chicago? She may know a lot about salmon fishing and oil drilling, but has she any knowledge of mainland America? -- The vast farmlands, the inner cities, the industrial towns, the transportation hubs, the financial infrastructure, the cultural centers.

Let us hope she's been to Washington, at least as a tourist; she has never for a minute held a seat in Congress. Her underwhelming experience has been simply to serve as mayor of a small town (pop. 8,000) followed by less than two years as governor of Alaska.

McCain has met this woman only once. Love at first sight? Or was it a shotgun marriage? (Palin is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.) Does he know that she favors the teaching of "intelligent design" along with evolution; that she advocates drilling for oil and running pipelines through Alaskan wildlife reserves; that she has even opposed listing polar bears as an endangered species because that might hamper Alaska's oil industry? Palin seems only vaguely aware that in her part of the world -- the Arctic Circle -- an ecological disaster is happening. Or she simply doesn't care.

And here is a woman who has deliberately given birth to a fifth child knowing full well it would be seriously handicapped and impaired all its life. Is that responsible parenthood?

Up until now, I have given McCain the benefit of a doubt. I have tended to shrug off the arguments about his age and his medical history. But these questions suddenly come into high relief when I see who his replacement could be: a young woman with the most minimal experience in government, with extremely limited knowledge of our country (not to mention of the world), and with a fundamentalist mindset that could undermine this nation for another eight years.

McCain the politician has shown an incredible lack of judgment. Probably, if he were president during a national emergency, he would call in the Rockettes instead of the National Guard.

For now, McCain the gambler has chosen his partner and dealt this crazy hand. It's up to America to make sure he folds.

Read more reaction from HuffPost bloggers to John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate

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