The Washington Monthly: The more I learn about this choice, the more it reminds me of Bush's choice of Harriet Miers. I don't think it's at all similar in its political ramifications -- Miers' nomination was seen as a betrayal by social conservatives, the very people who are thrilled by Sarah Palin. But it is similar in the manner in which each was chosen. In each case, the person who made the choice had wanted to pick someone else, someone he regarded as a close friend., In each case, he was told that he couldn't choose that person because it would be politically disastrous. In each case, the person who made the choice responded not by sitting down and thinking about who might fill the role s/he was to be nominated for with distinction, but by making a quick and ill-considered choice of a plainly unqualified person, a choice that seemed like an insult to the office that person was nominated to fill.
Moreover, in each case that choice reflected the fact that the person making it was chafing at the discipline required of him. As far as I can tell, Bush reacts very badly to the idea that his powers as President are limited in any way, or that he owes anything whatsoever to his party or his allies. McCain is similarly undisciplined: he has been willing to do what his party requires of him, up to and including sacrificing his honor and his principles, but he visibly bridles at it, and he seems to be thrilled at the chance to be a maverick again. If that requires picking a vice presidential nominee who is wholly unprepared to take over as President, without doing anything like the vetting a Presidential campaign would normally require, then so be it.
Discipline is not McCain's long suit, and he loves to gamble:
""Enjoying craps opens up a window on a central thread constant in John's life," says John Weaver, McCain's former chief strategist, who followed him to many a casino. "Taking a chance, playing against the odds." Aides say McCain tends to play for a few thousand dollars at a time and avoids taking markers, or loans, from the casinos, which he has helped regulate in Congress. (...)
"He clearly knows that this is on the borderline of what is acceptable for him to be doing," says a Republican who has watched McCain play. "And he just sort of revels in it.""
Picking Palin without doing a thorough background check first is of a piece with this: chafing at discipline, playing the odds, liking to bend the rules and get away with it, wanting to be a bad boy. These are not character traits I'd like to see in a President.