A reader writes:

This nomination involves the deepest cynicism of our time, the cynicism of identity politics.

Again, the first George Bush is the leader, with his nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Unlike Quayle and Miers, I'm not ready to say that Thomas is lacking in what it takes to do his job -- though at his best I think his record on the court will be undistinguished. But his record never had a thing to do with his appointment, which was a finger in the eye of the identity politics of race. Is it really so important to you that a black man be appointed to the Supreme Court? Any black man? Even one who doesn't agree with your Democratic political philosophy? Well, then, let me introduce you to Clarence Thomas.

Palin's nomination is probably even more cynical than that, given the context of Hillary discontent. While the press frequently seems to imply that Hillary voters are somehow "moderate" (a laughable assumption, but it's one that has real force), in fact they're the furthest left in the party. The very idea is only a response to the right's need to cast Obama as further left than Hillary. Again, I think that's risible. And now McCain has decided to test the thesis. Are Hillary voters so deeply angry at their party that they would vote for a ticket with a woman -- literally, any woman -- on it? Even a Republican, anti-choice ticket?

I'm sure the press will be able to find a few of these women, and you can bet you'll see them interviewed on some TV news show. Perhaps the feminist left is really that cynical -- more so, even, than McCain. Perhaps they really are willing to give up Roe v. Wade, and settle for a pretty aggressively anti-gay administration in order to get a woman -- any woman -- into the White House, somewhere. But I think this is where McCain's cynicism will fail him.

"Country First" really was more than a slogan up until now. But if Sarah Palin is qualified to be Vice President of the United States in this time of crisis (as McCain would have it), then Frank Capra isn't charming at all, he's leading us into a populist nightmare. If being mayor of a speed trap town is actually all it takes to be able to govern the United States of America, then government really isn't that important at all. I don't think there are enough voters willing to believe that. I think they are, on the whole, more willing to have believed McCain, circa 2000 -- before his party's cynicism infected even him.

(Photo: James Watson/Getty.)