McSame's McVeep: A Token of His Esteem...

09/30/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for vice president says more about the character of the man at the top of the ticket than it does about the woman in the number two spot.

His lust for power overrides both his common sense and his Country First meme.

A candidate who is a veteran of more than two decades on Capitol Hill and is a career-long member of the Republican Party certainly knows where the talent and capability lie within his own ranks. McCain could have chosen Olympia Snowe or Christine Todd-Whitman or Kay Bailey Hutchison as a running mate. He could have chosen any one of these women and made the case that, should he succumb to yet another recurrence of melanoma, his second-in-command would be qualified to serve as POTUS. On day one.

But he didn't.

I won't waste words parodying Sarah Palin, although the cheap shot is mighty tempting. I've seen the dismissive jetsam and flotsam online, the Vogue shots, the references to "the beauty queen". It's tasteless and counterproductive. I've seen the photo of Palin scantily clad with cleavage down-to-there and a tight skirt up-to-here and shoes that would do credit to any madame's paid escort. I won't Palin-bash over that picture, either. If I had a body like Sarah Palin, honey, I'd strut my stuff in private and have one very happy husband.

I won't list the ways this poor woman is tragically underqualified for such high office in unimaginably tough, dangerous times. Plenty of bloggers and reporters are doing that chore. I won't write a scenario of what might happen in the White House, at 3:00 a.m., should old John need hospitalization and Sarah Palin answers the damned red phone. Nor will I concoct a scene where VP Palin actually tries to tell "Stormy" McCain he's wrong about something.

I won't yell and scream (although really, really I want to) about a Veep -- that heartbeat away from the Oval Office Veep -- who believes her feminist sisters should be denied the choice to terminate a pregnancy even in the case of rape. Or incest.

I won't publicly agonize over her love affair with weapons and big oil drilling-for-dollars, her denial of human responsibility for global warming, for her blind refusal to recognize that the endangered polar bear is the canary in the coal mine. I won't rant about her unbelievable affinity for Pat Buchanan and Ted Stevens. Or over her pending problems with the Alaskan legislature about abuse of power (God knows we've gotten used to that dynamic in the White House).

I won't launch into a tantrum because John McCain only met the woman one time, choosing a running mate he clearly did not, and does not, really know.

And I won't hate her because she's beautiful. Although that's a tough call for an old warhorse my age.

I won't. Because none of that matters as much as this simple, terrible fact:

There is something seriously off-kilter about John McCain. We all know his history with women's rights is, to put it kindly, unenlightened. We all know his treatment of the women in his own life, from infidelity and desertion to Miss Buffalo Chip, is mighty tawdry. That's his personal life. Unsavory as his behavior has been, a good, Clintonian argument can be made that a lack of character (and of respect for his wives) in his personal life does not disqualify him for the presidency.

But this time John McCain's tin ear for -- and lack of commitment to -- the true worth of women invades the public sphere. This is serious business. The man had choices here. There are experienced, qualified Republican women. He refused to choose one of them and, in doing so, his contempt for women is showing like a dingy, oversized slip beneath a mini-skirt. He has made a joke of every highly qualified woman's right to climb to the top of the ladder. He's made a mockery of the vice presidency in the process. And he's risking the security of the nation he swears only war hero McCain has the judgment to lead.

Sarah Palin is, very likely, a nice enough woman. But she's no Hillary Clinton; she's the anti-Clinton. John McCain has cynically trivialized Ms. Palin as a token candidate. This is an ill-conceived maneuver, pandering to American women he clearly believes are so lame-brained that we can be fooled by tokenism. It's downright abusive. It typifies the mindset of a man who simply doesn't get it. Not about smart women and not about national security.

We're not stupid, Senator McCain. We don't want any woman who says yes on either ticket. We want the best woman for the job.