I don't know how tall Sarah Palin actually stands. I am guessing she is no giant, as she played point guard on her small-school high school girls basketball team--they called her "Baracuda." She is certainly not plain, at least not in the sense one means when we describe a woman with that word. To the contrary, Sarah Palin is the most strikingly comely vice presidential candidate in American political history.

An Aside: as much as this pick is designed to attract (and revivify) national security moms, I am convinced Governor Palin is also aimed at men from forty-two to ninety-five, who like to sneak a peak at Desperate Housewives every once in awhile--regardless of the less-than-plausible plot lines. I am guessing that Sarah Palin grew up watching Jill and Kris Monroe, Kelly Garrett, and Sabrina Duncan kicking and judo-chopping their way through a slew of bad men and evil-doers. She was not alone. There is a whole generation of us out there who like our women smart, beautiful, and ultra-capable.

Sarah Palin looks very comfortable in her fatigues squeezing off rounds in the desert. She strikes us as both tough as nails and soft to the touch as she shepherds her five kids onto center stage. Moreover, she grabs the microphone with the confidence and poise of a beauty queen who knows one important secret: she has been successful at everything she has ever attempted.

John McCain hopes fervently that his pick will stand tall and strong in the face of the upcoming media barrage--and he certainly hopes that beyond her good looks, her "regular Jane" story will resonate with plain folks.

My thoughts on the news?

Ambivalence. Quite frankly, my head is spinning.

On one hand, a really weird campaign took a dramatic turn toward ridiculous.

When I close my eyes and ponder Sarah Palin as the veep, my stomach hurts.

When I watch her and listen to her, my spirits rally.

What is wrong with Palin?

By some reckoning, the wise old statesman, John McCain, just burned his most meaningful trump card: EXPERIENCE. The conventional thinking called for McCain to paint his opponent as a forty-seven year-old, wet-behind-the-ears, half-term senator, far too naive to fully grasp the intricacies inherent in leading the most vital nation on the planet through a complicated swamp of pitfalls in an extremely dangerous world. McCain gave that up yesterday. Why? Not because it was not true (that line of argument was fairly accurate). No, McCain tossed EXPERIENCE because it was likely NOT compelling to a majority of Americans. Why give away this issue? Ask non-nominee Hillary Clinton? As Mark Shields said yesterday on the Newshour, John McCain was on a path to garner 45 percent of the vote.

In that sense, giving away the EXPERIENCE issue was probably a smart (even necessary) strategic choice. But, unfortunately, John McCain went even further when he tapped a forty-four year-old, half-term governor from a fairly insignificant electoral state (whose first and only prior job in politics was mayor of a small suburban town) to run as his second chair.

The Danger? If America elects John McCain, this woman, Sarah Palin, will be one heartbeat away from the presidency and be in charge of leading the most vital nation on the planet through a complicated swamp of pitfalls in an extremely dangerous world. McCain is a seventy-two year-old, weathered and shopworn, former POW, "cancer-survivor" (as all the Democratic pundits and spokespersons keep reminding us). Was this a responsible choice?

Is she ready?

Is she ready to be president? Is she ready for the next sixty-eight days? Is she ready to trade jabs with these lethal and seasoned heavyweight contenders in the most intense and punishing political prize fight around? Or, to switch sports metaphors, did John McCain really just call up a promising minor leaguer to pitch the first game of the World Series?

Is she ready? It is hard to imagine how she could be--but we will see.

What is right with Sarah Palin?

She is a woman. My initial thought on this gambit: Too Gimmicky. Come on. No one is going to fall for this. The shout-out to Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton. The chastisement of the good old boy network. The reference to women's suffrage. Doesn't this play way too manipulative and obvious?

All the talking heads are quick to point out that she is not an old school feminist. She is pro life. She is an evangelical. She is a movement conservative. Was anybody really expecting that the disaffected Hillary gals were really going to vote for this Bobby Jindal in a skirt?

By the way, she really does shore up the conservative base--but in a completely unorthodox way. Albeit breathtakingly brief, she possesses an actual track record as a conservative reformer, taking on the Republican establishment and thrilling hardcore conservatives simultaneously.

Why might women identify with her? The same reason many men will.

She is a no-nonsense fresh face. She radiates sincerity and authenticity. She exudes real personhood. She really is (no joke, no spin, no Hollywood magic) one of us. Although she takes away the EXPERIENCE card, she actually reaffirms McCain's true ace in the hole: his reputation as a maverick--which translated into the language of the common American means: "we think he is an honest man."

We know nothing about her--but at first blush, she strikes us as an honest woman.

At first blush, she is Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington.

Of course, making a good first impression is only the beginning. We shall see what we think of her on second thought. No doubt, this was a "Hail Mary," as some pundits have described it. It was a low percentage play with the clock winding down. But, every once in a while, a Roger Staubauch rears back in the gloom of a Metropolitan Stadium and throws a rainbow into the end zone and a Drew Pearson stands under the football and catches it on his hip.

And the crowd goes wild.