Palin '08 = Bush '00

09/29/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Some time ago someone wrote this elegy for the last eight years (I'm paraphrasing): "Do you remember how you felt that first time you ever encountered George W. Bush, early in the 2000 campaign? Remember that feeling?"

I do. First, stunned. Then, my head cocked to one side, one eyebrow arched, I chuckle at the absurdity...

This can't be. THIS is who they're putting up to run? Have they heard him try to speak in public? It's so insulting to suggest that the country would elect this person.

Karl Rove was audacious back then, he and McCain are audacious today. In a horrible political laboratory experiment with disastrous consequences, Rove first used Bush to test his Weakness=Strength theorem, which holds that you can trick the public into thinking that up is down and black is white.

It was all a fiendishly clever trap. Those who criticized Bush for being dumb and a poor speaker inadvertently helped elect him. Because once everyone picked their jaws up off the floor, the Bush campaign and its many surrogates could go over to the "beer drinkers" and say, "See? The white-wine drinkers are making fun of this average guy, George Bush. They're making fun of YOU, too! You'd much rather have a beer with the guy that can't talk so good, wouldn't ya?"

Rove actually made an asset of Bush's inability to communicate. And thus ushered in the "compassionate-conservative" non-alcoholic-beer-drinking buddy who actually -- surprise! -- turned out to be a scary vessel of ultraconservative policies. (The Weakness=Strength theorem worked again in '04 with Kerry's military service vs. Bush's lack thereof.)

So, what do the ex-baseball-team owner and the ex-beauty-pageant contestant have in common? All I know is, my instinct is telling me, This can't be. THIS is who they're putting up to run?

I didn't feel that way about McCain. I didn't feel that way about Biden or Obama. And Hillary, to me, looks damn presidential. Because your gut tells you they are qualified for the job.

Remember 2000!

Stunned at your first encounter with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin? Keep it to yourself, please. Or else get ready for part two of Rove's secret formula: "Oh, those snobby liberals are making fun of her? Calling her Quaylin? Screw them! You'd much rather have a beer with this good-looking maverick hockey mom, wouldn't ya?"

Let's be smart this time and show nothing but respect for Governor Palin, and not fall into the trap of calling her names and ridiculing her, but firmly and politely decline her kind offer to become our next vice president.

By all means, America, go have a beer with Governor Palin next time you're in Alaska. Just don't be surprised when she tries to sign you up for the John Birch Society.

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