John McCain likes the "maverick" label despite his 95% record of voting with George W. Bush. Since mavericks oppose the status quo, and no status is more quo than Bush, McCain's claim is a transparent falsehood. McCain picked Governor Palin, a backwoods charismatic in designer specs, only to fake us out and re-assert his lost maverick status.
It's true that McCain's whacked first executive choice has ignited the GOP's right-wing base. We'll leave aside the Far Right's long scorn Ward Connerly of ultra-humane (and ultra-non-canine) Hillary Clinton as a "b*tch" while they celebrate a self-described female pit bull from Alaska. (Far be it from me to highlight GOP hypocrisy; instead, I must issue a kindly warning to McCain and his celebrity VP. In my town, Denver, pit bulls are outlawed, lipstick or no. Those who insist on parading the dogs in tow will find their bitches and curs euthanized, a horror close to abortion for Ms. Palin's fans.) The same G.O.P. that worried a hole in its soul over Mitt Romney's Christian bona fides now rolls holy over Ms. Palin's Pentecostal speaking-in-tongues sect, which decrees that Islam is an illegitimate faith and Iraq a Mission From God.
That McCain chose the shaky yearling Governor Palin as his first executive action predicts President McCain's likely appointments. Based on his cynical adoration of Palin, here's a brief sample of what to expect right after a McCain victory:
Phyllis Schlafly for Secretary of Health and Human Services
The original pit bull in lipstick, spry leader of the ultraconservative Eagle Forum, Ms. Schlafly ( championed the stay-at-home mom while she criss-crossed the country as a Far Right attack dog to oppose equal rights for women in the 70's and 80's. Her hatred of gay rights never meant she hated her gay son, only his proclivity to love the wrong gender. Supremely qualified under the McCain logic, Ms. Schafly knows as much about Health and Human Services as Ms. Palin knows about the ethnic intricacies of South Ossetia.
As a bonus, Ms. Schafly could appoint another semi-celebrity, Jamie Spears, as her Undersecretary for Reproductive Services, an expert on teenaged pregnancy and abstinence education. If Ms. Spears remains tied-up on the labor deck, Jamie's mom, Lynne, author of a book on successful parenting, would be a perfect second choice.
Glenn Beck as Secretary of State. This aw-shucks faker and cable yakker will spin a populist nativism perfect for his assigned role, freaking-out the rest of the world. Beck's grasp of global realities is a perfect match for contemporary America's, weakened to a Glenn-Beckian level by eight years of relentless Bush-Cheney truthiness and terror-mongering. A particularly calculated performance came when Beck asked newly elected, mild-mannered Midwest-born Minneapolis Representative Keith Ellison, "Should I be scared? Scared, I mean, scared!" because the young Congressman is not a tongue-speaking, holy-rolling Christian but a Muslim!" With Secretary Beck we'll elevate cultural ignorance to a virtue and develop the perfect Know-Nothing, Shoot-First McCain foreign policy, building among the community of nations No Bridges to Anywhere.
Charles Manson for Chief Officer of Federal Corrections: Why? One word: "Experience."
The Unabomber, Ted Koszinski, for Postmaster General: McCain finds big Federal programs--except for anything war-related--wasteful and distasteful. As an insider in McCain's Cabinet, the Unabomber can easily destroy our system of inexpensive, universal mail. Every time we dare to open a taxpayer-subsidized package--take that, Big Guv'mit!--we'll all get blowed-up like it's still '68 in 'Nam.
Phil Gramm for Secretary of Commerce: Gramm, long a McCain pal and advisor, famously called citizens' outcry at the current financial melt-down "whining" and declared the money crisis imaginary. "Commerce" is what the wealthy and rich engage in to stay rich and wealthy and engaged while we little whiners huddle in our foreclosed homes, waiting for breaks that never come. Gramm will work hard to ensure that in McCain's America, it stays that way.
Jack Abramoff for Secretary of Defense: Why not Secretary of Treasury? That would be almost perfect, but Abramoff perfected the system of pay-offs (bribes) that elevated him to the King of K Street Lobbyists during his brief reign. Now, thanks to years of Bush-Cheney, the whole scary world is K Street on steroids. We must realize that it's not McCain's vaunted Surge (A few extra troops? Come on!) that has tamped-down the killing in insanely violent post-Bush Iraq, but the 2008 program of crude pay-outs to Sunni "insurgents." We called these bribes "The Sunni Awakening," which even General Petraeus admits bought-off the bad guys with a surge of greenbacks. Abramoff is ideal as our military minister in Bush-McCain-Palin World because he's proven to be expert at funneling public money into private hands. Let's see what Jack can do, armed with taxpayer bucks, sticky fingers greasing palms in North Korea, Iran, and South Ossetia!
Luckily, Schafly, Spears, and Beck are not behind bars or under indictment (at least, as this went to press) and could surely use the work. If McCain, once ensconced in the White House, can decree the release of Manson, the Unabomber, and Abramoff, it's an easy transfer from their Federal imprisonment to Federal empowerment in a McCain-Palin Administration. How much better to know in advance that key Republican appointees are already criminals, con artists, killers of innocents, and mad bombers. No vetting necessary, no scandals, no ugly Ken Lay, Tom DeLay-like surprises; we'll know from the get-go that these G.O.P. leaders have been under indictment all along.
Across town, with Ms. Palin and her family dropping pit bull pups all over the Vice President's residence, each angry bark and bite will reaffirm the Bush doctrines that shrink government at home and project our greatness abroad.