McCain blinks

Bring back the real McCain pleads this week's Economist. But I'm afraid that, with the Palin pick, the old maverick McCain is finally dead and buried. He had the chance to stare down the Republican Christian right by choosing the intriguing if far-from-ideal Lieberman, but instead he blinked and went for bible-thumpin', pistol-packin' Sarah. Does he expect the world to laugh or cry at such a ludicrous choice? As an Englishman with American kids, I'm doing both simultaneously. This is what the Economist said about McCain before the Palin pick:

Hawkish foreign policy, irresponsible tax cuts, more talk about religion and abortion: all this sounds too much like Bush Three, the label the Democrats are trying to hang around the Republican’s neck. We preferred McCain One.

But McCain One is now ancient history. By allying himself so closely with the religious right and selecting a candidate so self-evidently unprepared for national office, McCain really is transforming himself into Bush Three. The decision is now in the hands of American voters and the choice couldn't be starker. Obama might be sanctimonious and Biden a windbag, but this highly team tower over the McCain-Palin ticket. Rather than being Moldova, Haiti or South Ossetia, America is a serious country with massive global influence and obligations. You can't elect a shot-gun wielding vice-president who questions Darwin and whose moral claim to fame is producing babies with Downs Syndrome. The Palin phenomenon -- with its populist cult of the ordinary -- is a shameful indictment of libertarian political culture in America. She's what you get when you continually chip away at the ideal of political authority, expertise and professionalism.

McCain claims to be an America patriot, but with this Palin pick, McCain is belittling America. An America with Sarah Palin as vice-president would confirm all the world's worst stereotypes about the United States and would do a profound injustice to this great country.