Sarah Palin and the VRWC

This Jane Mayer piece promises the story of "how John McCain came to pick Sarah Palin," but it's remarkably short on inside information from the actual McCain campaign; instead, it spends much of its word count cataloguing all the instances in which Sarah Palin angled to get national attention for herself while governor, and all the instances in which conservative pundits made favorable comments about Palin before she was picked. As such, I suppose it's a useful corrective to the whole "where did she come from? (and why weren't we told about it?)" spirit that dominated the media coverage for the first few days after she joined the ticket, but I think you can tell how seriously to take its account of the elite-conservative machinations that supposedly elevated Palin onto the ticket from this paragraph:

Support for Palin had spread from one right-of-center Internet site to the next. First, the popular conservative blogger InstaPundit mentioned Brickley's campaign. Then a site called the American Scene said that Palin was "very appealing" [emphasis mine]; another, Stop the A.C.L.U., described her as "a great choice." The traditional conservative media soon got in on the act: The American Spectator embraced Palin, and Rush Limbaugh, the radio host, praised her as "a babe."

That was Reihan, of course, in this post from February on "non-obvious Vice Presidential thoughts." Allow me to quote the second half of the post in full:

Thus far I've been pretty milquetoast.

How about

the exhumed body of Silent Cal?
disgraced former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney?
Bernie Sanders of Vermont as part of a conservative-socialist front against Clinton?
former New York governor George Pata -- wait, that's just absurd.

I still want Scalia to run. As the song "Here Comes the Judge" plays in the background, he will fly from state to state, crushing injustice with his mighty gavel. Speaking semi-seriously, I would be interested to see a committed originalist or textualist in the White House. It would be pretty strange, I think, and possibly very healthy. I assume she or he would use that veto pen with great verve.

You know who I kind of like from a distance? Tom McClintock, the California state senator made somewhat famous by his role in the California recall election. Too bad he looks and sounds like a man possessed. Then again, that's clearly why I like him.

I'm just waiting for the ferocious battle between Petraeus and Jindal in 2016, when frontrunning Petraeus will be laid low by the charge that he is some kind of secular humanist. Jindal, meanwhile, will use a massive botnet attack to cripple the federal government as he uses an army of homeschoolers to establish a sovereign Christian republic in the states of the Old Confederacy. But Jindal's use of Bengalooru hackers will lead Dixie nativists to revolt, thus initiating a round of coups and counter-coups in the fragile new state. It's at this point that Petraeus, at the head of an army of loyal Iraq veterans, will seize control of the heartland to establish the Islamic Republic of Petraeustan, governed by a particularly harsh interpretation of sharia law. His grand vizier? Imam Walid W. Bush, the man formerly known as "Dubya." Caliph Bush 41 will, in a meeting with European president Tony Blair, declare eternal peace between the two warring civilizations. And all will be well.

You heard it here first, folks.

Vintage Reihan? Yep. Brilliant and classic? Of course. The sort of thing that should have been block-quoted into Mayer's piece on principle? Absolutely. Evidence of an semi-conspiracy among conservative elites to push John McCain to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate? I'd say probably not.

But of course I could be underestimating my co-author's influence. (It's happened before.) And when Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes and Rush Limbaugh all start talking up a Palin-Bernie Sanders fusion ticket for 2012, or dropping oblique references to Bobby Jindal's homeschooled army, I suppose I'll have to reconsider.

Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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