Why did John McCain select Sarah Palin as his running mate? The real reason is that he made an impulsive decision to prove his independence in reaction to pressure from Karl Rove, who was lobbying for Mitt Romney, as I explain in a forum on Firedoglake.com on my new book, The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party.
I explain the inside story, according to sources close to the McCain campaign:
On Palin: My information is that Karl Rove wanted Romney and pushed him. McCain pushed back. He really wanted Lieberman. That was completely out of the question. Palin is the result. One element of the Palin nomination is McCain establishing himself apart from the Bush/Rove political operation, even as his campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, is one of their creatures. From the outside, it's often hard to figure out how vicious and divided the Republicans can be with each other.
I further explain that McCain rationalized his hasty choice as an appeal to the Republican base:
On McCain and the GOP base: Conventions are real tests of party unity, as we've just seen with the Democrats. McCain still has to pass the test through his own convention. Palin, among other things, enables him to bring along the social conservatives, or it ought to do so. Once McCain receives the nomination he is freer to move to the center. He is already campaigning more as a "maverick" and behind the scenes he is in some conflict with both Bush and Rove on policy and politics. If we had a sensate political press corps they might report on these abrasions.
McCain's emergence as the GOP nominee represents the fracturing of the conservative Republican dominance of the party, shattered as a consequence of George W. Bush's radicalism. I explain the story of how the Republicans came apart in "The Strange Death of Republican America." On the ruins, McCain must attempt to piece together the broken shards. In McCain's case, the political motive has combined with the temperamental. Thus, Sarah Palin.