Since McCain picked Sarah Pali, Governer of Alaska to be his Vice Presidential running mate, everyone has been scrambling to figure out "what it means" and "how it plays." I have a few general thoughts, and what better place to air them than the internet? Here they are in no particular order.
1) This was first and foremost a political pick. If the first major decision of the presidency is picking a vice president, McCain just failed and Obama passed. Obama picked a politician for both political and practical reasons; Biden is a great surrogate, but he is also a reasoned and experienced voice to have as counsel. Biden and Obama by all accounts developed quite a rapport over the campaign, and with Obama's trust, Biden will be an effective advisor and confidant.
McCain, on the other hand, had no relationship with Palin at all. She was picked first and foremost to shake things up, as the McCain camp understood they couldn't win on the fundamentals. I don't know how many times McCain and Palin have ever even met before the VP search began, but I'd be surprised if it were more than a handful of times. Also on her side was the paucity of good picks for McCain. As my mom pointed out "who the hell else was he going to pick? Romney? Giulliani?"
2) I second Atrios' caution about sexist criticisms of Palin. Concerns that she is too busy with a son with down syndrome to be VP, or other such gener role based concerns, are sexist. Criticism that she doesn't have the gravitas or knowledge to be president, questions that generall aren't asked of men in similar positions (Rudy Giulliani) shouldn't be confused with her genuine lack of experience on the national stage.
3) Sarah Palin really is a very conservative wingnut. She is a global warming denier, vehemently anti-choice, and a creationist. This was probably as much a pander to Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson as it was a pick to shake things up. 2 for 1!
4) My hope is that despite the initial confusion and excitement, people recognize the political nature of this pick, and question if McCain really has the judgement to be president.
5) Sarah Palin is not Hillary Clinton, and the idea that women don't vote on issues is borderline sexist. Minority groups are constantly fighting these stereotypes, and they usually fight back and do the right thing. Republicans try to run every African-American candidate they can, but African-Americans don't vote for them just because they're black. See Steel, Michael. Give female voters some credit.
6) I'm not really ever persuaded by the experience argument (owing perhaps to my own age and lack of experience...). No job really prepares you for the presidency, and a bright and ambitious politician like Obama is every bit as qualified, in my view, after 4 years in the senate as McCain and his 26 years in the senate. I'm more concerned that Palin is extremely right-wing than I am that she has only been governer for 2 years. Though that is perhaps stretching the bounds of my inexperience-tolerance.
7) I'm not impressed that Palin rides snowmobiles or eats mooseburger, and if I hear that from my TV one more time I'm gonna scream. I wasn't impressed that George W. Bush had a ranch and would have been fun to drink beer with (even though I never thought so), and I'm not impressed with Palin's "Real American" credentials. Eating mooseburgers and riding snowmobiles doesn't make her any more American or credible to me than any other American.
8) Ultimately, people don't vote for Vice President. They vote for President. Palin is new and exciting, but McCain can't hide behind her.